Jennifer Kent’s had a hit with critics with her instant indie horror classic The Babadook from 2014. So it’s exciting to see that with her next project she’ll be breaking out from the horror genre while maintaining some of the sinister edge.
Variety reported Thursday that Kent’s next film will be an adaptation of the novel Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis, a period piece set in 1892 in which a romance between two teenage girls results in a grizzly murder and trial.
Alice + Freda Forever was released in 2014 as a New Yorker “Book to Watch Out For” and was written by Alexis Coe.
“Jennifer Kent was my first choice from the moment I read Coe’s exceptional book,” said Sarah Schechter via Variety, the film’s producer along with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. “Jennifer’s debut film was one of the most accomplished I have ever seen and I’m thrilled she shares the same passion for telling this powerful, intense and unfortunately still timely story.”
Here’s the full synopsis for the book:
In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation — it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.
Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter — and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail — including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.