Since his death in 1993, River Phoenix has lived on in endless Michael Stipe tributes and James Franco art projects, and within the space of the heavy sigh you let out whenever Joaquin Phoenix stars in something. That, plus his movies, of course, and now River Phoenix’s abbreviated filmography could get a surprise extension: Dutch director George Sluizer has announced plans to complete Dark Blood, the drama that Phoenix was working on when he died of a drug overdose almost exactly 18 years ago. In the film, Phoenix played a hermit character known only as “Boy,” a hermit living on a nuclear testing site and awaiting the apocalypse who forms a tempestuous relationship with the wife of a Hollywood couple (Judy Davis, who co-stars with Jonathan Pryce) that turns up seeking shelter. Sluizer has kept his Dark Blood footage hidden for years, but believes that he can finally create a workable finished film through the magic of reediting and additional voiceover for Phoenix’s character—this provided by his brother, whom Sluizer believes sounds “very much alike.” Considering Sluizer could have gone the “CGI Oliver Reed in Gladiator” route, it’s actually a pretty dignified solution.
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