Beyond a successful career in music videos, Mark Romanek directed three feature films: Static in 1985, One Hour Photo in 2002, and Never Let Me Go in 2010. But then, curiously enough, the feature film work from Romanek stopped coming. He’s continued to helm music videos and also directed an episode of the Amazon series Tales From the Loop last year, but Romanek’s movie work has been absent since 2010. Thankfully, that’s about the change, as the filmmaker is now attached to helm Mother Land, a horror movie for Lionsgate.
Mark Romanek seemed like a director destined to helm great movies, but he hasn’t actually directed a feature film since 2010. At one point, Romanek was going to direct The Overlook Hotel, a prequel to The Shining, but that project never quite came together. And for a while there it was starting to seem like Romanek’s feature film career was over before it really got started. Thankfully, Romanek is poised for a feature comeback with Mother Land, a horror movie from Lionsgate produced by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen.
Deadline reports that the film “deals with a family that has been haunted by an evil spirit for years. Their safety and their surroundings come into question when one of the children questions if the evil is real.” We first wrote about this back in 2020, before Romanek signed onto the pic. “To have Mark Romanek board this project says everything you need to know about the quality of this material and where we are taking it tonally and artistically,” said Erin Westerman, President of Production for the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby, who wrote the 2016 film Mean Dreams (Bill Paxton’s final film before his untimely death), wrote the script for Mother Land. That synopsis is a bit too vague for me to feel one way or another about this project, but I definitely love the idea of Romanek helming a movie again. To be clear: it’s not like Romanek hasn’t worked in a decade. His music video work has been steady, and he directed episodes of shows like Vinyl and Tales From the Loop. But after the excellent and disturbing One Hour Photo, I wanted even more Romanek horror/thriller movies, and sadly, we never got them. For a while there it looked like Romanek would helm The Overlook Hotel, the prequel to The Shining, but budget problems got in the way.
“We got the blessing from Stephen King, the script was written, and then I took it upon myself to elaborately rewrite that script,” Romanek previously said. “And what it finally got down to was, really, an origin story. It was more like a wilderness tale set in the very early twentieth century. I can’t remember the name of the character that built the hotel now, but it’s the desecration of the Indian burial ground and the construction of the Overlook Hotel in the deep wilderness in 1910, and it builds to the grand opening of the hotel. It was epic, and I think the problem really was just the budget.”
With all this in mind, I’m looking forward to seeing how Mother Land shapes up.
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