Instead of reading a bedtime story to his children, Richard LaGravenese decided to make them a movie. He picked the novel “Beautiful Creatures” because they asked for “a supernatural teenage love story that didn’t involve sparkly vampires.”
Supernatural without those dueling vampires and werewolves? What’s left? Not zombies. The walking dead have been lurching around movie and TV screens lately. And paranormal entities have had their now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t screen time too.
How about witches now that Harry Potter has run his course? Yeah, that’s it. But we can’t quite call them witches or it might seem too close. These magical beings who cast spells … what if we dub them “casters”?
So LaGravenese wrote a screenplay based on the first entry in this four-book series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
It’s a love story, so we need a boy named Ethan, a restless lad who can’t wait to get out of the small Southern town where he grew up. And we’ll have him meet up with a mysterious young woman named Lena, who looks just like a girl in his dreams. She’s new to town, staying in that old mansion with her reclusive uncle.
Why would folks whisper that they’re devil worshipers. It’s simply not true. They’re casters.
But the time is coming when Lena (played by Alice Englert) must choose a path for evil or good. As she reveals her secrets to Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), he assures her that the choice is hers to make.
As one moviegoer described it, we have “a teen girl who suffers through a magical identity crises.”
Toss in a couple of dark casters (Emmy Rossum and Emma Thompson) to oppose Lena, complicate matters with a historical event that cursed the women in Lena’s family, and unleash a Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Honey Hill where Lena’s uncle (Jeremy Irons) casts his own spell. There that should do it. We won’t talk about the ending.
“Yes the story is ‘corny’ at times and it does kind of remind me of a Twilight movie,” opined a moviegoer, “but it worked and in a way mixed the fantasy genre with a rom-com style.”
Another member of the audience said, “Twilight is all about the romance. ‘Beautiful Creatures’ has a big Romeo and Juliet thing going on, but at the same time, there’s mysteries, prophesies, hypocrisy, Southern politics, Civil War history, religion, death, evil forces, and all sorts of madness making for quite an interesting story (with some very witty and sarcastic dialogue to put a cherry on top).”
Shirrel Rhoades is a film writer for Cooke Communications.