Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s long-in-the-works adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman has finally settled on a screenwriter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, horror scribe Eric Heisserer—whose resume is filled with genre reboots, remakes, and sequels like A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Thing, and Final Destination 5—has been tapped for the role. Presumably, Heisserer’s experience with Death personified and the cruel machinations of fate will put him well-at-ease with Gaiman’s tale of the nobly tragic Dream, even if his past work did substitute an unseen, malevolent force for Gaiman’s perky, gothic Death, and an ill-advisedly unattended belt sander for Dream’s fatal flaw of pride.
Gordon-Levitt’s take on the sprawling, literary graphic novels has been in production for years now, with the actor and chosen director David S. Goyer issuing periodic reminders that they’re still hard at work on the problem of making an epic comic book adaptation that follows Gaiman’s request that there be “no punching” in the film. The movie was moved over to New Line by Warner Bros. last year, presumably to keep its production from muddying the waters of the incipient Dawn Of Justice; that might explain how Heisserer got involved, as he’s worked extensively with the studio, including on the upcoming The Conjuring 2.
And while we might gently rib Heisserer for his tendency to work almost exclusively in established universes, it’s worth noting that we both kind of liked his 2013 directorial debut—the tense survival story Hours—and that horror is one of Sandman’s most prevalent tones. (Also, Heisserer initially made his name as a writer with The Dionaea House, a pretty fantastically creepy story that went viral on the internet back in the mid-2000s, which is another healthy point in his favor.) With Gaiman presumably still poking his head in from time to time to make sure thing haven’t gone off the rails, guarded optimism still feels like a reasonable response to the news that this seemingly impossible film is moving closer to actually getting made.