Aspiring screenwriters can sleep well tonight, knowing they’ve all been beaten by a man who’s been dead since 1976. Yes, Hollywood—having run out of board games to adapt into feature films—has now turned to a yellowing stack of magazines, and hit upon a New Yorker article written by the late Carl Carmer back in 1936. His piece, “Voices Through The Trumpet,” told the story of the Fox sisters, who, as girls in the mid-19th century, encountered upstate New York’s first documented haunted house. They claimed to be visited by the spirit throughout their lives, until years later, when both sisters denied the otherworldly experience had ever taken place… and then dropped dead shortly thereafter.
The adaptation justifies both the existence of hoarders everywhere, and of Condé Nast Entertainment, a division of the magazine giant created in part to look for intellectual property that could be repurposed. A new film from Fox Searchlight is that purpose, and the studio has enlisted screenwriter J.T. Petty, whose writing credits are comprised of genre films like The Burrowers, as well as video games, including the Splinter Cell series and Batman: Vengeance. But really, by not just telling people Carmer is writing the script from beyond the grave, the studio missed a big opportunity.