Splice’s Vincenzo Natali Will Go Neuromancer’ing in a High Rise

I’ve been following Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali’s career for a while now, and it’s always struck me as strange that he’s never become a huge movie director. I suppose one of the reasons may be that he just didn’t feel like working in the Hollywood system, and seemed satisfied with doing moderately budgeted sci-fi gems like “Cube” and “Cypher” beyond the reach of the mainstream. His latest is “Splice”, a sci-fi/horror flick that will probably get him his biggest exposure yet, with the film due out June 4, 2010. Curiously, the film was completed in 2009, and is only now just getting a release date.

Nevertheless, the exposure for Natali has already paid off: he’s currently in negotiations to write and adapt William Gibson’s seminal sci-fi book “Neuromancer”, taking over for “Torque’s” Joseph Kahn (with “Star Wars” prequel guy Hayden Christensen attached to star), and he’s also got an adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s “High Rise” in the wings.

Speaking to I09, Natali wants us to know that he’s spoken with Gibson, and has gotten the author’s blessing to adapt “Neuromancer”. Meanwhile, when it comes to “High Rise”, Natali says there are changes in store for the 30-year old story, and he calls his version “High Rise 2.0”:

“[The] book was written a long time ago — it was written 30 years ago, and it’s quite surreal — I felt that if you just translated the book, just transcribed the book into a movie, basically you’d have The Exterminating Angel all over again. You’d have a surrealist film. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I sort of felt that that took away from some of the poignancy of the story, when it really didn’t need to be surreal. When you really can imagine this — what I call a “social disaster film.” In my mind, it’s totally plausible that these events could happen. But they could never happen half a mile from the port of London.

So I kind of made that story the background story to our film. [The novel is] almost like a backstory [to the movie]. And we’ll learn a lot more about Royal, the architect. And we’re going to learn a little bit about past failed experiments of his. It all ties into this High Rise, which is very isolated. It’s on an island somewhere in the Pacific.”

When it comes to “Neuromancer”, on the other hand, Natali seems to be indicating that his version will be faithful to the Gibson novel. And if you’ve seen his action/sci-fi/thriller “Cypher”, you know the guy has a deft touch when it comes to technology on screen, and is probably the perfect director to take on “Neuromancer”.

Regardless of how it all turns out, I am very anxious to see what someone with Natali’s prodigious talents can do with a big Hollywood budget. And hey, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always going back to Canada and making more gems like “Cube”.