Stephen Susco believes the time is ripe to make a screen-credit and career change from writer to director. Last week, it was announced that the scripter of Columbia and Ghost House Pictures’ two GRUDGE films is taking the helm of WHITE, an adaptation of Tim Lebbon’s short story derived from a six-novella collection entitled WHITE AND OTHER TALES OF RUIN. It’s a project Susco will not only direct, but adapt as well to maintain the comfortable level of creative control he has been seeking.
“I was planning on spec-ing the script, since I had such a distinct vision of what the film adaptation could be,” Susco tells Fango. “But after so many years of screenwriting experiences in which I had very little leverage or power to protect my vision, I knew I wanted to wait for the right moment to move on WHITE—a time when I could be involved as a producer as well. But over the past couple of years, as my ideas for the project have clarified, a number of people have started talking to me about directing, and this of course seemed like the natural way to bring my exact vision for the project to the screen.”
For Susco, WHITE’s attraction shone through the novella’s basic premise of “phantoms” picking off occupants of a mansion during a terrible blizzard. “I first read some of Tim’s work back in 2003,” he recalls. “WHITE was one of the first stories I read, and I’ve had it under option since early 2004. There is such a grace and elegance to the terror that Tim creates in his work, and I felt WHITE captured this essence beautifully. The idea is truly the stuff of nightmares, and the visions he put forth haunted me for weeks after I’d read it.”
How he intends to pull off the film’s supernatural villains is a closely guarded secret, though he tells us that “these are creatures that will seem more like ghosts than anything else.” Even though he has worked twice now with J-horror maven Takashi Shimizu, Susco’s influences remain a bit more classic, not to mention rooted in domestic fare. “For this project, there are certain directors I’m looking to—a marriage of the formalistic starkness of Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING and Brad Anderson’s SESSION 9. In terms of the creature side of things, I’m hoping to take a cue from ALIEN and SIGNS, with the fear coming as much from the unseen as the seen. That’s the kind of stuff I’ve always admired the most."