turn of the screw TV series

Henry James’ gothic horror novella The Turn of the Screw will be adapted into a new TV series for Freeform. So far, so good, right? Not so fast! The adaptation will also be set in modern times, which takes a little wind out of the story’s old school gothic scares. The new Turn of the Screw TV series will focus on a nanny who heads to a job on a picturesque island, only to discover possible supernatural forces.

Deadline broke the news about the Turn of the Screw TV series. The series will hail from Alexandra McNally (Under the Dome), Josh Berman (Drop Dead Diva, CSI) and Sony Pictures Television, with McNally writing the pilot and executive producing with Berman and Osprey’s Head of Development & Production, Chris King.

Here’s the synopsis of the original Henry James novella:

When a governess is hired to care for two children at a British country estate, she begins to sense an otherworldly presence around the grounds. Are they really ghosts she’s seeing? Or is something far more sinister at work?

The story has been adapted into films and other formats several times before, perhaps most famously as Jack Clayton’s wonderful 1961 film The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr. There’s plenty of material here to mine for a creepy show, but the modern day setting gives me serious pause. “The Turn of the Screw is one of the scariest novels of all time. Yet the themes are as relevant today as they were more than a century ago,” said Berman, and I guess that’s true, but the story’s 19th century setting adds a certain atmosphere that probably won’t transfer well into our present day.

The new adaptation will follow “Elena, a Mexican-American nanny who is hired to care for the two children of a widowed-father at their summer home on idyllic Bainbridge Island. It seems like the perfect job with potential for a ‘happily ever after’ ending, but things take a sinister turn when Elena begins seeing ghosts and her grip on what is real and what is not blurs.”

I have no evidence of this, but my guess is that Freeform is moving ahead with this because of the success of Mike Flanagan’s Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House. The show received rave reviews, and generated buzz, so producers are likely looking for more scary classics to mine for material. Hill House was also updated to modern times (at least partially), but Shirley Jackson’s novel was set in the 1950s, which is much different than the 1890s setting of Screw. Still, if done right, I’m always up for more horror-based TV shows.

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