Earlier this month, Amazon Studios announced the projects on its Development Slate. Some have top producers attached, some have open writing assignments, some have test movies — and all are moving forward.
Premise: Leo’s big plans to escape his small town are foiled when the notorious animal smuggler implicated in his brother’s death returns. Instead of planning his departure, Leo recruits his friends to help kill the man he blames for destroying his family.
The Amazon Studios take: Animal Heads is an unconventional coming-of-age drama about a 17-year-old boy who plans to kill the man who allegedly murdered his brother. The script does a great job crafting authentic and edgy characters who also have heart. The action is gritty and memorable and the script employs some wonderfully surreal elements while managing to stay grounded in reality.
Premise: A barren woman miraculously conceives with the help of a mysterious fertility clinic, only to discover that she’s bearing an alien baby. Fleeing from pursuing agents, she has to decide if her newborn child is the precursor to an alien invasion or the only hope for mankind.
The Amazon Studios take: Children of Others is an excellently crafted paranoid thriller that grows from being a story about two people, to being a story about the fate of world. Though the finale revolves around a full scale alien invasion, we never lose sight of what makes this such a human story: it’s about motherhood. It’s about a woman trying desperately to come to terms with the fact that her ‘miracle baby’, the child she was never supposed to have, could be the harbinger of the end of the world as we know it.
Premise: A rookie cop finds himself at odds with the police force when he discovers that they have been using a vampire to do their dirty work for decades.
Amazon Studios take: Darkest Before Dawn creates a fast-paced and original take on the vampire tale in this story of a bloodsucker forced to play cop. The vampire here isn’t a romantic antihero or Gothic super villain; he is an animal, backed into a corner and fighting for his life. It’s rare to find a vampire story that doesn’t feel tired and derivative, but this story, with its meditation on human nature and journey into police corruption, manages to feel fresh.
Premise: Two years after the loss of his leg in a car accident, an ex-cop must track down his escaped dogs after his philandering wife unwittingly exposes them to rabies.
Amazon Studios take: Origin of a Species is a poignant and thrilling drama about an amputee ex-cop who must face his past and failed marriage after his three German Shepherds are infected with rabies and begin to terrorize his small, Midwestern community. With compelling characters and a lush texture, ORIGIN is both thought-provoking and unique.
Premise: A teenage girl with the psychic power to track people by holding objects they’ve touched is conscripted by the authorities to find a killer who is targeting people just like her.
The Amazon Studios take: Touching Blue is a truly unique thriller that blends elements of the superhero myth with a compelling murder mystery. It’s the character of Blue that gives this story unexpected heart and complexity. Rather than embrace her difference, she’s withdrawn from society and run away from her past. On one hand this is a detective story, but on the other it’s something far more resonant: the story of a girl who has to face the ghosts of her past to secure a better future.