James Ashcroft, the Māori Kiwi actor-turned-director who made a splash with horror flick Coming Home in the Dark, has signed on to direct Devolution, Legendary’s adaptation of the Bigfoot horror novel written by World War Z author Max Brooks.
Ashcroft will also polish the script with his writing partner Eli Kent.
With Devolution, Legendary is hoping to make horror piece that has something to say about the state of humanity when the veneer of civility is stripped away and nature takes over.
The story sees a tech-focused, “green” community in the deep forests of Washington State that is left isolated by a natural disaster. The social structure rapidly disintegrates as the members contend first with being cut off from the modern world and then with a pack of mysterious predators who turn out to be Sasquatch creatures. The book, published in 2020, told the story via the journals of town resident Kate Holland.
Ashcroft’s Coming Home premiered virtually at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and was nabbed by Netflix. The movie, also co-written by Kent, told of a school teacher and his family’s hiking trip going horribly awry when two violent drifters with mysterious intentions show up. It generated strong reviews, with THR calling it a “taut and sinewy first feature” and “an assured debut from a promising new director.”
From 2006-13, Ashcroft served as the artistic director and chief executive of national Māori theater company Taki Rua Productions, developing and touring New Zealand works both nationally and internationally. He is an alumnus of the Venice Biennale Cinema College, the Torino Film Festivals Up & Coming Programme, and is a creative advisor for the Sundance 2021 Native Scriptwriter’s lab.
The filmmaker is repped by CAA and Grandview.