By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 15, 2011 at 2:00AM
We always feel that Neil Jordan is somewhat undervalued. Generally speaking, his films aren't giant hits (bar "Interview with the Vampire"), or gather awards attention (except for "The Crying Game"). And there are plenty of misfires across his career, from "Michael Collins" to "In Dreams" to the truly awful "The Brave One." But his work is consistently interesting, and sometimes downright superb, particularly when he delves into more fantastical territory: we're not sure that films like "The Company of Wolves" and the recent "Ondine" ever quite got the attention they deserved.
The Irish writer-director is currently coming off the back of a TV success with his Showtime series "The Borgias" recently being renewed for a second season, and news has now come in that he's returning to horror/fantasy territory for a new big screen entry. The Hollywood Reporter (via Dread Central) reveal that Jordan's currently prepping a new project revolving around vampires, "Byzantium," and he's landed two of the most in-demand actresses around in the shape of Gemma Arterton and "Atonement" Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan.
The film, written by "Tamara Drewe" and "Jane Eyre" scribe Moira Buffini, involves a mother (Arterton) who, when turned into a vampire, converts her own daughter (Ronan) into a bloodsucker as well, with the two going on to form a deadly pairing, occasionally posing as sisters. The project marks a reunion with producer Stephen Wooley, who's worked with Jordan going back to "The Company of Wolves" -- Wooley comments that "I love the horror genre and we’ve been working on this for three or four years. I sent it to Neil and he liked the script. We’d both recently revisited Angela Carter’s book and it was just chance that when I called [Jordan], we were thinking along the same lines."
We're not crazy about the idea of yet another vampire picture, obviously, but if anyone can bring something new to the genre, it's Jordan, and the pairing of Arterton and Ronan should be an interesting one. The project's announcement does seem to suggest, however, that the director's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" is on the back-burner again: that was originally meant to shoot this year. "Byzantium," however, looks pretty solid: it's set to film in October with an $11 million budget.