By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist August 3, 2011 at 2:05AM
Sanaa Lathan & Mike Epps Also On Board
In theory, winning an Oscar is meant to provide a boost to your career. In theory. But somehow, the four and a half years since Forest Whitaker took home a golden man for his portrayal of Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland" have provided a series of diminishing returns. Aside from a handful of exceptions, both his Oscar-bait films like "Hurricane Season" and "The Great Debaters" and would-be commercial properties like "Street Kings" and "Repo Men" tanked, while an alarming number of his pictures seem to be skipping theatrical release entirely, and he spent last year leading the swiftly-cancelled CBS procedural "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior."
Still, he remains a fine actor, and he's just signed on to a project that will team him with one of the most promising young actors around, as The Hollywood Reporter reveal that both Whitaker and Anthony Mackie will star in a new independent horror film titled "Vipaka." Written by Shin Shimosawa, a co-producer on "The Grudge" films, it'll see Whitaker play a disturbed man who abducts his life coach (Mackie), using voodoo to torment him and his family.
Philippe Caland, who previously directed Whitaker in the 2007 drama "Ripple Effect" (no, us neither, but see below), is at the helm, and the cast also includes Sanaa Lathan ("Alien vs. Predator") and Mike Epps ("Friday") as Mackie's wife and brother, respectively. Ordinarily, it sounds like the kind of fare that Whitaker's doing all too often these days, but we have to confess that Mackie's presence has given us hope: he's a hot property at the moment, squeezing this in between shoots for blockbusters "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and "Gangster Squad," so fingers crossed that his involvement means that the film will be superior genre fare. Filming's getting underway this week in New Orleans, so we'll presumably see this sometime in 2012.