With The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher seems to be emerging from his Oscar-bait phase and re-indulging in his love of dark thrillers. And now Vulture hears that Fincher has just optioned Jason Starr’s 2009 macabre crime novel Panic Attack, about a New York shrink who shoots and kills a home intruder, then faces a media frenzy and the victim’s vengeful accomplice. We’re also told that Fincher has set Ocean’s Eleven and Tower Heist screenwriter Ted Griffin to adapt the book.
We hear Panic Attack will be part of Fincher’s recently formed company, Panic Pictures. (Boy, factor in Panic Room and this guy really has a thing about that word.) His company is set up at Media Rights Capital, the production and financing entity that allows filmmakers to retain ownership of their films while getting major Hollywood studios to bid on distributing the movies for a fee.
Starr is a prolific crime novelist. His tenth book, The Pack (about werewolf stay-at-home dads run amok on the Upper West Side, naturally), hits bookstores next week, but four of his previous novels are already in development in Hollywood in one form or another. Most notably, his 2008 thriller, The Follower, is set up at Starz, with Bret Easton Ellis adapting.
Reached by Vulture, Starr had few details on the project’s timeline, but did offer up his thoughts to budding crime novelists on what makes for a good thriller: He insists it’s the villain, and not your hero, who makes a thriller thrilling. “And the thing about Panic Attack is that there’s a really compelling antihero in this guy Johnny Long [the revenge-minded cohort stalking the psychiatrist and his family],” says Starr. “He’s a very clever, Ripley-esque psychopath.”
No word on whether the equally prolific Fincher (who is producing the Kevin Spacey series House of Cards for Netflix) intends to direct himself or farm it out in the same fashion M. Night Shyamalan did at MRC with Devil, but we’ll keep you informed.