I think we all would have expected more than two Chuck Palahniuk books to have made it to the big screen by 2011, but since Fight Club none of the projects have ever gotten traction aside from the low-budgeted Choke. At last it seems one of his books has picked up some steam as short filmmaker and producer Cameron MacLaren nears completion on a script for Invisible Monsters, with the input of Chuck Palahniuk himself and newly chosen director Samir Rehem (Degrassi: Next Gen, Skins).
If you’re not familiar, Invisible Monsters is the first novel that Palahniuk attempted to have published, but it was rejected until the success of Fight Club. It’s been too many years since I read it to accurately recall much, but I do still retain the impression that its story of a nameless narrator with a blown-off lower jaw and a barely-sane transsexual mentor was particularly twisty and barely coherent.
Regardless, /Film picked up on a blog post on the Author’s website, which included a note from the filmmakers about the state of fundraising and awareness-building (they’re still in the middle of it). If you take a look at the names involved though, you’ll realize this is another grassroots style production, and definitely something more akin to Choke than Fight Club. There’s obviously the kind of genuine enthusiasm coming from the filmmakers that suggests they might eventually get this film in front of cameras, but I’m not sure how well another story from Chuck will fare on the low-budget end of things. That’s not to say the film should be particularly expensive, but the ultra-indie thing just won’t work here.
From my perspective, the enduring legacy of Fight Club (as a film) has become wrapped up in the continuing story of David Fincher, whose growing acclaim has retroactively ripped the cult hit out of Palahniuk’s grimey alternative lit hands and made it his own. Since the tragedy on September 11th, 2001 kneecapped the Survivor adaptation, which of any of Palahniuk’s books seemed the most likely to get the full Hollywood treatment based on the video success of Fight Club, there has been only Choke. Despite featuring the ineffable Sam Rockwell, the whole affair was undeniably cheap and small and flat. To snap on screen, Palahniuk’s prose requires full and large-scale attention be paid to its cynical melodrama- you have to take this shit as seriously as it takes itself, or it all crumbles in a big pile of unrealistic misery. I’m not bagging on Palahniuk here as I like many of his novels– his earlier work hit at the perfect time for someone my age, when one’s awareness and exploration of the darknesses of the world could be creatively fueled by his bent characters. All of this is to say that I remain concerned for an adaptation of his work that doesn’t have the kind of mad visual genius of Fincher behind it, not to mention the raw cash, to do make this as polished as it should be.
The value of Fight Club, Haunted, Invisible Monsters, and Survivor is the hyper-stylized look at a fucked up layer that, in these universes, exists behind everything in our society. Each book features characters that for all their platitudes, do seem to be offering some kind of look behind a frightening real curtain. Sometimes it’s enough that you have to put the book down and remind yourself that they are just stylized novels, and that you haven’t stumbled upon the anti-matter of our civilization seething just below the surface.
This is not a tone or a texture that can be faked cheaply and without vision, so I do hope Invisible Monsters eventually has the means and that Rehem has the vision to make something special– even if I’d much prefer Survivor be resurrected. I will say that while Rehem has worked mostly in teen TV, there’s something about working in those shows that suggest he might have some understanding of the kinds of people and personalities that play into this story.
Do you care to see any more of Palahniuk’s stories on screen, and would you care for it to be this one? I’m curious what the chewer consensus on the author is, and if there’s anyone that still holds this book up in high esteem? Twitter, comments, or boards- take your pick, but speak up!