One of the Greatest Thrillers Ever is Getting Remade — Again

Love him or hate him, Marvel director Scott Derrickson is taking a shot at a classic.

United Artists

Countless classic thrillers have used novels as their source material. Gone Girl, Shutter Island, and Silence of the Lambs all brought nail-biting books to life on the big screen, and they’re just modern examples of a trend that’s endured for almost a century. Alfred Hitchcock’s third feature, 1927’s The Lodger, was based on the 1913 novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes and is considered a landmark in the genre.

Now, an upcoming movie will continue this pattern by adapting a book that’s over 70 years old — and it will attempt to update one of the most iconic noir thrillers ever in the process.

According to Deadline, The Black Phone director Scott Derrickson will adapt Davis Grubb’s 1953 novel The Night of the Hunter for Universal Pictures, co-writing the script alongside his longtime collaborator C. Robert Cargill. Loosely based on the story of real-life serial murderer Harry Powers, it follows an ex-con who poses as a preacher and seduces a widow to claim money left by her ex-husband, only to find himself chasing down her two children when they catch onto his game.

The Night of the Hunter’s cinematography has influenced movies for decades.

United Artists

The novel was adapted into a 1955 film directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum. Lauded for its direction and silent-era-inspired cinematography, it’s considered one of the most influential thrillers ever. The villain, Harry Powell, proves his worth as a preacher by rattling off a sermon about love and hate by writing the words on his knuckles, and a similar speech was used for one of the most iconic scenes in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

That’s just one of countless examples of its influence, which leaves Derrickson and Cargill with a tall order. Their upcoming take on the novel won’t be the first adaptation of Night of the Hunter since the classic 1955 movie; a 1991 TV movie starring Robert Chamberlain attempted to bring the story into a contemporary setting. It, however, was largely considered a failure because of how it wavered from the original story.

A 1991 TV movie tried — and failed — to update Night of the Hunter.


This new version won’t make the same mistake. Cargill took to Twitter to express how the script will attempt to stick even closer to the book than the original movie. “For those unfamiliar, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER was based on a novel that was *MUCH DARKER* than the 1950s would allow,” he said. “Very excited about this project and thrilled we can finally talk about it.”

If you still haven’t seen the movie or read the book, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up. Derrickson’s dance card is getting full, with the Anya Taylor-Joy and Miles Teller sci-fi action movie The Gorge releasing on Apple TV+ later this year, and the sequel to The Black Phone slated for 2025. It’s likely we won’t see The Night of the Hunter until 2026.

Updating an all-time classic noir is a tall task for a director more accustomed to crowd-pleasing superhero fare, but The Black Phone was a success, and the 2020s may just allow them to serve the story in a way the 1950s couldn’t. Whatever happens, get ready for a lot more pop culture references to knuckle tattoos.

The Night of the Hunter (1955) is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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