A week ago we learned that a bidding war for rights to author Victor Sweetser's The Occupant had opened up between some of the hottest names in horror. Zach Cregger (Barbarian), Roy Lee (It, The Ring), Lindsay Beer (untitled Pet Sematary origin movie), Neal Moritz (I Am Legend, Goosebumps), Gary Dauberman (Annabelle Comes Home) and Walter Hamada (Friday the 13th, Final Destination 5) were all “circling bids as producers.” The Hollywood Reporter have announced that the bidding winners were...*drum roll please*...Zach Cregger and New Line!
It's the third Cregger project to be set up in as many weeks, following the news that a multi-story horror "epic" titled Weapons and a sci-fi thriller Companion have been green lit, both also by New Line. According to Deadline, The Occupant follows:
...the story of a 100-year-old Victorian home offered up for free, with the caveat the new owner has to put it on a flatbed and move it from the lot it occupies. The story begins cleverly with texts back and forth between a husband and a wife, who cannot get over their good luck to be chosen to take the house. Naturally, we learn there is no such thing as a free house.
The narrator is a teen named Chloe, who lives in the town where the home is being moved. She and her boyfriend Mason are disappointed to see it’s going to be plopped onto The Shole, their nickname for the shithole empty lot where the neighborhood kids go to drink, smoke and lose their virginity. They decide to explore the structure before the homeowners move in.
In a yarn that is one part Poltergeist mixed in with Stephen King, they learn the house is haunted, and its supernatural occupant begins to turn itself loose on members of its new neighborhood, with horrifying results. It becomes a full-fledged scare fest.
The Occupant, which is only 39 pages long, is Sweetser's debut and was originally titled 'The House That Came to Birch Street'. The short was originally posted to Reddit's r/nosleep sub in three parts. The exact purchase price hasn't been revealed, although THR report it was for 'high mid-six figures.'
Anyone who's been following Cregger's horror career even slightly should know that his name is super hot right now; Barbarian, which cost $4.5 million to make, grossed more than $40 million domestically for 20th Century Studios, and was heralded as one of the biggest horror hits of the year, garnering rave reviews for its secretive marketing and unpredictable plot twists.
New Line's president and CCO Richard Brener expressed his enthusiasm for the New Line/Cregger partnership, saying:
“If I just saw Barbarian, it would be enough for me to bet on Zach having a long and impressive career...But after reading Weapons and discussing Companion and The Occupant with him, it’s a virtual lock. When you add how collaborative and personable he is on top of that, well, I hope he is part of the New Line family as long as possible.”
Barbarian proved that Cregger knows his way around creepy houses, so needless to say we are HYPED to hear that he's taking on the story of another one. More details for The Occupant are still under wraps, but best believe we'll be updating as we get them.