Dept. H Comic Getting Movie Adaptation From Paradise Hills Director Alice Waddington

Alice Waddington, who directed the stylish 2019 indie film "Paradise Hills," has been hired by Netflix to direct a movie adaptation of the Dark Horse comic series "Dept. H." Screenwriter T.S. Nowlin, who wrote "The Maze Runner" movies and was a co-writer on "Pacific Rim Uprising," wrote the screenplay, and Dark Horse Entertainment's Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg, and Paul Schwake will produce the movie adaptation.

What is Dept. H About?

"Dept. H" is essentially what would happen if murder mystery maven Agatha Christie wrote "The Abyss." Here's the synopsis, according to Deadline:

The original story is set after a renowned scientist is mysteriously killed in a deep-sea research station and his estranged daughter is sent six miles below the surface to investigate. With the pressure building and the water rising, she must race against time to solve the murder as she uncovers the truth behind the station's purpose.

(The abbreviation for "Department H" looks like the word "depth." I'm sometimes slow on the uptake, so it took me a second to figure that one out.) As a huge Agatha Christie fan and also someone who genuinely appreciates underwater movies like "Deep Blue Sea" regardless of how ridiculous they might be, this sounds like a concoction I never knew I needed. The film is based on the ongoing comic series, which hails from Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt and has been published since 2016. The comic is defined by writer/artist Matt Kindt's loose, shaggy art style, which can sometimes feel more like something you'd see in an indie zine than what you might think of as the typical American comic book style, so it should be very interesting to see if Waddington is interested in capturing any of the aesthetic from the comics or if she's more concerned with mining the story for its best parts.

Why Waddington Sounds Like a Good Fit

Waddington has only directed one feature film thus far: 2019's "Paradise Hills," a beautiful and nightmarish fairy tale story about a woman who wakes up to find herself trapped on an island with a bunch of other women her age, overseen by an evil witch who wants to strip them of their individuality. Since most of the film takes place on that island, Waddington has experience telling confined stories about a female lead in tight spaces. She's a sharp filmmaker who can make something visually dazzling on a small budget and she's also someone who clearly has something to say as an artist, so I'm thrilled to see what themes she explores in this adaptation.

When I spoke with Waddington for "Paradise Hills," she told me her next film was going to be a Netflix movie called "Scarlet." That project never materialized, but I'm excited to see her find something else to tackle at the streamer instead.