Lasse Hallström Directing ‘The Hypnotist’

We’ve had a few years where one of the biggest questions in development news was ‘what can be the new Twilight?’ Will the new question be ‘what’s the new Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?’ With David Fincher hard at work on the first English-language adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novel, you can bet that will be one of the most-asked questions in studio exec offices in 2011 on both sides of the Atlantic.

One film that might seem like an option but probably won’t be is The Hypnotist, the first in a series of novels by Lars Kepler. Lasse Hallström will direct.

THR says the film will shoot in Sweden later this winter. The books won’t be published here in the States until June. So this film version will be shot and finished just in time for the rights to be snapped up for an English-language remake. The trade summarizes the story: “Detective Linna investigates a grisly triple homicide where the only survivor, a young boy, is too traumatized to testify. Linna convinces a famous psychologist, against his better judgment, to hypnotize the boy, setting off a terrifying chain of events.”

No cast has been announced yet, but this film is announced as a hopeful franchise-starter, so they’ll be looking to cast a Swedish actress who can play Linna in a set of films.

Tumba, Sweden. A triple homicide, all the victims from the same family, captivates Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the grisly murders—against the wishes of the national police. The killer is at large, and it appears that the elder sister of the family escaped the carnage; it seems only a matter of time until she, too, is murdered. But where can Linna begin? The only surviving witness is an intended victim—the boy whose mother, father, and little sister were killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes intended for this boy to die: he has suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. He’s in no condition to be questioned.

Desperate for information, Linna sees one mode of recourse: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes. It’s the sort of work that Bark had sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl.

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