caruso_dead_space

Games publisher EA and Temple Hill Entertainment (which has a hand in the Gears of War film adaptation) have been working to set up a film version of the horror / sci-fi game Dead Space. Now Variety has announced the director: Disturbia and Eagle Eye‘s DJ Caruso. The game had strong film overtones; you couldn’t play through without detecting obvious strains of Alien, Solaris and quite a few other influences. What direction will a film based on a game that is heavily indebted to film take?

First, I loved Dead Space. In last fall’s crowded game market I played through the title more than once. The story was thin, and the action could be repetitive, but I latched onto the atmosphere, sound and visual design and a few zero-gravity sequences. But story and action are going to be far more important in the film, which means whoever Temple Hill chooses as screenwriter may have to make some serious changes. I can’t see the film happening as a straight adaptation, as there’s just not enough to go on.

The game follows an engineer named Isaac Clarke, who with two other officers arrives on a derelict mining ship to discover massive carnage. The bodies of dead crewmembers are being recombined into horrific zombie-like creatures that can only be killed by dismemberment. As Isaac seeks to restore power to the ship he discovers the influence of a scientologist-like cult that focused on a monolithic alien artifact. Power from the artifact may be creating the necromorph zombies, and may also be responsible for visions that plague Isaac as he works.

The game is all about slow exploration punctuated with flashes of extreme violence. It works with a controller in your hand, but it’s not enough for a film. And while the design of Isaac’s engineer’s suit is visually interesting enough to stare at as you control his adventure, he’s not much of a character. Temple Hill will be announcing a screenwriter soon, and hopefully they’ll be able to push EA into accepting a pitch that takes chances with the material and gives Caruso something to really work with.

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