It's fun to see bestselling thrillers adapted for the screen. Fans get to debate casting choices and get to discuss whether the movie plot stayed true to the book, and if not, whether it improved upon the plot of the book. But movie adaptations are almost as fun when the novel on which they're based is obscure. Who doesn't enjoy getting introduced to a great novel you hadn't heard of previously? Whether they will be read-then-see or see-then-read, here are a few movie adaptations we're looking forward to in 2020.
The Outsider by Stephen King
“Evil has many faces” is how HBO is teasing the screen adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider and that pretty much sums it up. Following the discovery in a town park of an eleven-year-old local boy’s violated corpse, all the evidence points to Terry Maitland (played by Jason Bateman, which just may be genius casting), local teacher, married father, and Little League coach, as the monster who committed the crime. But he has a seemingly airtight alibi; how could he have been in two places at once? As is often the case with King, mystery and the supernatural intersect at some point, and it wouldn't be King without a twist to leave readers—and viewers—reeling.
The Rhythm Section by Mark Burnell
When Stephanie Patrick's entire family is killed in a plane crash, she almost self-destructs. When she learns that the plane crash was an act of terrorism, not an accident, and is recruited by a covert intelligence organization shortly after, she doesn't take much convincing. Her new job and her new revenge agenda go together nicely. This intense shell game of a thriller (starring Blake Lively and Jude Law) combines Bourne-like action, a heroine in the mold of Lisbeth Salander, and an intriguing question about the true cost of revenge.
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
Rarely has the adjective "Hitchcockian" been used so often to describe a thriller, and rarely has that adjective been so on the nose. So it's entirely fitting that The Woman in the Window has been adapted for the big screen. In the upcoming movie, Amy Adams plays Anna Fox, the recluse who spies on her New York City neighbors, the Russells (played by Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore), until one night she sees something she shouldn't. Or does she? Finn takes an old trope, the unreliable narrator, and lights a fire under it in this twisty thriller.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
After rounding up an all-star cast for a 2017 movie adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh has done it again, assembling an amazing cast for another of Agatha Christie's Poirot tales, Death on the Nile. Gal Gadot, Rose Leslie, Armie Hammer, and Annette Bening get top billing in this story of an heiress whose murder Poirot must investigate while vacationing on the Nile.
Without Remorse by Christian White
Without Remorse was the book that introduced Mr. Clark as former Navy SEAL John Kelly. With a violent revenge/lost love plot inspired by the same book that the Rambo movies were based on, it became one of Tom Clancy's most successful books in the Jack Ryan series. And Mr. Clark became a fan favorite in the Ryanverse, second only to Jack Ryan himself. An origin story for a popular character—Without Remorse explains Mr. Clark's name change—it's coming to the big screen this year, with Michael B. Jordon in the title role.
Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith
Ben Affleck starred in the movie adaptation of the defining domestic thriller of the last decade, Gone, Girl. And he's the star of another story of marital mind games, the upcoming Deep Water, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name. The only functioning part of Vic and Melinda Van Allen's marriage is an arrangement whereby they preserve a happy facade, behind which Melinda takes lovers and Vic pretends not to notice. But Vic is far from happy with the arrangement, and when he works a fake murder into a ploy to get Melinda back, and then the murder actually occurs, the stakes become lethally high.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
At 240 pages, it's a good thing that I'm Thinking of Ending Things is as short as it is, because readers might not be able to bear more than 240 pages of the agonizing, slow-burn tension that Iain Reid packs into his ominous debut. An unnamed young woman is traveling with her boyfriend Jake, played in the upcoming movie by Game Night's Jesse Plemons. They're on their way to visit his parents. At some point during the evening it occurs to the young woman that maybe she should break up with Jake. And the evening slowly unravels...
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
Robert Pattinson, Eliza Scanlon, and Tom Holland are among the stars of the upcoming adaptation of Donald Pollock's novel, The Devil All the Time, set in the backwoods of Ohio and West Virginia, between the end of World War II and the beginnings of the Vietnam War. From a tormented war veteran to a pair of twisted serial killers, to a deluded preacher, The Devil All the Time is a dark, Gothic tale of loss, crime, alcohol, and God that has drawn comparisons with Cormac McCarthy.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Yes, it's a classic of fiction, but Rebecca's also one of the original domestic thrillers, a story of death and obsession, with a strained marriage at its center. It's been adapted for the small screen a number of times but it's been 80 years since Sir Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine starred in the only big screen adaptation to date. This time, Lily James and Armie Hammer assume the roles of aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter and his second wife, whose marriage is haunted by memories of his tragic first marriage, and threatened by the sinister Mrs. Danvers, who remains devoted to her original mistress.