A couple of years ago, Canadian production studio Redlab Digital optioned Charlie Human’s urban-fantasy novel Apocalypse Now Now, with District 9 writer Terri Tatchell signed on to adapt it. A proof-of-concept short for the film has just been released, and it looks bonkers, like Ghostbusters meets a twisted, darker version of Harry Potter.
The short film was directed by South African director Michael Matthews, who is attached to direct the feature-film version. Tatchell tells The Verge that Human’s book is “packed full” of insane action, and that the public release of the proof-of-concept film will help yield good feedback from viewers. In concept, it resembles the output of Oats Studios, run by her husband, Neill Blomkamp. (Apocalypse Now Now isn’t connected to Oats.) She says she’s completed the first draft of the screenplay, and that her team is about to figure out where the next draft will go.
Tatchell says she has a particular love of South African science fiction, and when she was first introduced to Human’s book, she was hooked. “It’s all over the place. There are no constraints,” she says. “There are like a million dreams and a million crazy things, and you just never know where it’s going to go. There’s a sort of wildness to it.”
That recklessness suffuses this concept. Human’s story follows 16-year-old Baxter Zevcenko (played by Garion Dowds in the short). He’s dating Esme, the girl of his dreams, and selling porn to his classmates. Everything goes south when Esme is kidnapped, and it looks as though something supernatural is the culprit. To track her down, Baxter hires a supernatural bounty hunter named Jackson “Jackie” Ronin (played by Louw Venter), who introduces him to the strange, supernatural world lurking just under the surface of our own. The concept film opens with Baxter in a car with Jackie, Capetown’s “finest, drunkest bounty hunter,” as they track down a possible culprit.
Tatchell says she became involved in the project when producer Todd Brown sent her a copy of the novel, which he was thinking of optioning. “I read it, and it is the most fun, crazy, scandalous, rollercoaster ride. I absolutely loved it.” If the final film is anything like this proof-of-concept, it’s going to be a fun trip.