Matt Reeves Takes Over Vampire Tale 'The Passage' From Ridley Scott

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Just last week, Cloverfield and Let Me In director Matt Reeves signed to direct a new film based on the story 8 O'Clock in the Morning, which was once turned into the John Carpenter film They Live. Now he's signed to adapt another prose property. This time it is Justin Cronin's novel The Passage, in which science accidentally creates a host of vampires that nearly wipe out mankind. Ridley Scott was once attached to direct, and he was a more obvious choice than Matt Reeves, whose films so far have told stories on a smaller scale than this.

More details on the book and the deal are after the break.

Deadline announces this one, and says that it is uncertain whether The Passage or 8 O'Clock in the Morning will come first. John Logan has already scripted The Passage, as he was part of the development process with Ridley Scott, but Matt Reeves will oversee a rewrite by a new screenwriter. (John Logan has Bond duties to attend to at the moment.) Meanwhile, 8 O'Clock is being written by Mr. Reeves. Put your bets on The Passage happening first, because there is already a solid script in existence.

As for the story of The Passage,the short form is that "terminally ill patients become healthy after they are bitten by bats in South America, and the government conducts secret tests on human subjects to see if the virus can cure illness. The result is an apocalyptic unleashing of bloodthirsty vampire test subjects that include death row inmates."

Reading the synopsis reminds me a bit (a very little bit) of the Park Chan-Wook film Thirst, though I expect by the time this film is made (assuming it does get made) The Passage will look quite different. Deadline says it is closer in tone to The Stand than Let Me In — take that 'makind is almost wiped out' scope very seriously. There are certainly a good many familiar elements in the story, but I like the idea of Matt Reeves working on a larger canvas.

Here's the longer recap:

When a secret project to create a super-soldier backfires, a virus leads to a plague of vampiric revenants that wipes out most of the population. One of the few bands of survivors is the Colony, a FEMA-established island of safety bunkered behind massive banks of lights that repel the virals, or dracs—but a small group realizes that the aging technological defenses will soon fail. When members of the Colony find a young girl, Amy, living outside their enclave, they realize that Amy shares the virals' agelessness, but not the virals' mindless hunger, and they embark on a search to find answers to her condition.

And an Amazon interview with Justin Cronin provides this cryptic explanation of the novel's title:

A passage is a transition from one state or condition to another. The world itself makes such a transition in the book. So do all the characters—as characters in a novel must. The title is also a reference to the soul's passage from life to death, and whatever lies in that unknown realm. Time and time again I've heard it, and in my own life, witnessed it: people at the end of life want to go home.