John Ridley To Adapt And Direct 1960s Poltergeist Movie

Credit: Rocco Ceselin

Oscar winner John Ridley is to write and direct a new poltergeist movie, reports The Hollywood Reporter. The film is to be based on Project Poltergeist, written by Saleah Blancaflor for the excellent non-fiction online publishing house Truly*Adventurous.

Novelist, screenwriter and director Ridley won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award for 12 Years A Slave. Now he is to adapt Ms Blancaflor’s article and direct for Blumhouse.

The story relates the true events surrounding the first purported haunting in a public housing project. The events took place in Newark, New Jersey in 1961, terrifying Ernie Rivers, the 13 year old boy, and his grandmother, Mabelle Clark, who lived in the apartment.

Fearing eviction by the Newark Housing Authority, the pair try to keep the goings-on quiet. But news gradually leaks out to neighbours, and then the press. The Housing Authority and eventually a group of Parapsychologists become involved.

Against a background of institutional racism, segregation and personal tragedy, the events escalate, leaving both Ernie and Mabelle in a situation it seems impossible to navigate a way out of.

The story in Ms Blancaflor’s article was reconstructed out of hours of interviews and archive records.

Blumhouse recently acquired the rights to Project Poltergeist, and the movie will be produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse, in association with executive producers Matthew Pearl and Greg Nicholas of Truly*Adventurous.

Ridley said, “This is an incredible true-life narrative of a young man dealing with horrors – both paranormal and racially systemic – in a community that is scarred by hate, yet ultimately brought together by hope. I really appreciate Blumhouse’s commitment to telling stories that seek to entertain audiences even as it challenges.”

Blum added, “The best scary movies are always based on a real event, and we were very compelled by the material this story is based on. I also know that John Ridley is as good as you get as a dramatic storyteller, so we’re confident that infusing this story with John’s brand of drama is a great bet.”

Carolyn Hucker