Read it before you see it 2021: Horror, historical tales, a Kiwi western and more!

Hayley breaks down the movies and TV series based on books due to hit screens in the coming months.

There's Someone Inside Your House

There's Someone Inside Your House

Following the recent Fear Street trilogy and last year’s Freaky, the teen slasher genre is being resurrected in the 2020s, having offered mainly remakes since the likes of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer in the ‘90s. Netflix is once again turning to young adult fiction for its source material, adapting fluff writer Stephanie Perkins’ first foray into horror, There’s Someone Inside Your House. The story centres on Makani, a new student in Nebraska with a dark past in Hawaii, whose graduating class is being targeted by a masked killer in a series of gruesome murders exposing their deepest secrets.

Dopesick

Dopesick

America’s opioid crisis is placed under the microscope in this limited series based on Beth Macy’s award-winning book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America. Tracing how the epidemic blew up from the launch of OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller, in 1996, the series delves into different perspectives across the US, from the pharma company Purdue, to a Virginia mining community, to the DEA. Michael Keaton leads as a doctor battling with the fallout of OxyContin, while Michael Stuhlbarg portrays Richard Sackler, the president of Purdue Pharma who downplayed the risks of the drug.

The Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

From indie wonder studio A24 (producing gems like Ex Machina, Hereditary, Lady Bird, Moonlight and so many more) comes a refresh of one of the most famous Arthurian legends, Sir Gawain and the Greek Knight. Dev Patel steps into the armour of Sir Gawain, nephew of King Arthur and a knight of the Round Table, who beheads a mysterious green-skinned figure during Yuletide celebrations, on the condition that the Green Knight may return the favour in a year's time. While the tale has a classic fable structure, the film looks to be a genre-bending spectacle, combining drama, fantasy, and adventure with a creeping tinge of horror in its visual style.

Passing

Passing

This black and white adaptation of Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing was a Sundance hit early this year, and was promptly snagged by Netflix for distribution. Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga star as light-skinned Black women in 1920s New York, two high school friends who reunite in their adulthood and become obsessed with each other’s adverse lifestyle and identity. The black and white film is a personal project for British actress and first-time writer-director Rebecca Hall, whose paternal grandfather was Black and lived most of his life “passing” as a white man in America.

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog

Kiwi auteur Jane Campion returns to the silver screen with her first film in twelve years, following Bright Star in 2009. The Power of the Dog, adapted from Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel, is the project that left its Hollywood stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons stuck in New Zealand during lockdown last year, and has now earned rave reviews, a directing prize for Campion and early Oscar buzz while doing the rounds at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals. Cumberbatch leads the brooding Western drama as a Montana rancher whose relationship with his brother is challenged by the arrival of his new wife and her son.

The Wheel of Time

The Eye Of The World

Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series is finally joining The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones as the latest epic fantasy saga to be put to screen (after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ordered the studio to find a tentpole blockbuster to compete with the latter). The scope of the series far surpasses that of its predecessors though, with 15 books, 2782 named characters and a sprawling mapped world. Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike leads a cast of relative unknowns as a member of a mystical order of women who embarks on a journey with five young people, believing one of them to be the subject of a prophecy that could either save or destroy humanity.

House of Gucci

The House of Gucci

The trailer for Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci made quite a splash on the internet when it debuted two months ago, unleashing a deluge of fake Italian accents, gaudy ‘90s fashion and meme-worthy moments. Following her Oscar-nominated turn in A Star is Born, Lady Gaga is back on film playing Patrizia Reggiani, former wife of the fashion house head Maurizio Gucci, who was convicted of orchestrating the assassination of her ex-husband. The film very much feels like a sibling in spirit to Scott’s previous feature All the Money in the World, with both tackling famous crimes in the world of the mega-rich.

The Lost Daughter

The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter was another standout of the fall film festivals, winning her a best screenplay award from the Venice jury. The adaptation of one of Elena Ferrante’s lesser-known novels stars recent Oscar-winner Olivia Colman as a divorcée confronted by her past motherhood when her child-free Greek vacation is interrupted by a boisterous family, and she is particularly drawn to a young mother. Colman is supported by Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard and Paul Mescal, in his first film role since breaking out in last year’s Normal People.

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