After winning the Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave, creating critically acclaimed television series American Crime, and directing the incendiary documentary Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, celebrated filmmaker John Ridley is heading into horror. Per the Blumhouse 2020 fan event, Ridley will be writing and directing an as-of-yet untitled paranormal horror film for the genre studio — based on a terrifying, timely true story.
The story was written up in a Saleah Blancaflor article called “Project Poltergeist,” and details the strange, haunted occurrences that took place in a 1960s New Jersey public housing project, and how they affected the family of young Ernie Rivers. Ridley will use the genre film to examine the systemic, real-world issues embedded within the paranormal activities. As he explained in a statement, “This is an incredible true-life narrative of a young man dealing with horrors – both paranormal and racially systemic – in a community that is scarred by hate, yet ultimately brought together by hope. I really appreciate Blumhouse’s commitment to telling stories that seek to entertain audiences even as it challenges them.”
Jason Blum, who will produce the project through his Blumhouse company, said that “the best scary movies are always based on a real event, and we were very compelled by the material this story is based on. I also know that John Ridley is as good as you get as a dramatic storyteller, so we’re confident that infusing this story with John’s brand of drama is a great bet.” Other producers include Matthew Pearl and Greg Nicholas, the founders of Truly*Adventurous, the nonfiction magazine that originally published the “Project Poltergeist” article.
This movie sounds incredibly interesting to me. It’s no secret that even the best of our most recent haunted house pictures — your Conjurings, for example — are white-centered and tend to deal with private homeowners. Telling this kind of story from the Black perspective, specifically tracked to the fraught and complicated history of American public housing projects, sounds like a necessary take for the paranormal horror genre. And Ridley, whose American Crime you simply need to watch, is such an interesting, provocative auteur to shepherd the project.