If It Bleeds is a 2020 collection of four previously unpublished novellas by American writer Stephen King. The stories in the collection are titled “If It Bleeds”, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, “The Life of Chuck” and “Rat”. Originally scheduled for release on May 5, 2020, the release was changed to April 28. The audiobook is read by Will Patton, Danny Burstein, and Steven Weber.
According to Deadline, three of the tales in the book — “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” “Rat” and “The Life of Chuck” — have been snapped up by three different companies. The title story, meanwhile, seems likely to get an adaptation too, since it stars a character that has already appeared in two different King adaptations.
King has an unusual way of doing business in that he licenses the options to his stories for the sum of one dollar (with more to come later), although he gets certain creative control rights as part of the bargain and the productions must go in front of the cameras within specified time frames. That latter aspect may be a challenge with COVID-19 still hampering a lot of Hollywood productions.
If It Bleeds is a collection of four novels.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone
A teenager finds that a dead friend’s cell phone that was buried with the body still communicates from beyond the grave. Craig gets a job working for the retired Mr. Harrigan when he’s just nine years old, watering plants and reading to the old man, who has retired to the small town of Harlow, Maine, after a successful business career. As the years go on, Craig buys an iPhone for him as a thank you gift after a scratch-off lotto ticket that Harrigan had gifted the boy pays off. The old man is reluctant to accept the phone at first but comes to enjoy it. When Mr. Harrigan dies, Craig places the phone in his pocket to be buried with him. One night, missing his friend, he leaves a voice message. To his shock, he gets a text in return. Craig will learn that not everything dead is gone.
The Life of Chuck
As the world around him crumbles into oblivion, a man realizes that he contains multitudes. A story told in reverse, starting with the end of Chuck Krantz’s life, and moving back in time to show how he’d lived that life.
If It Bleeds
Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog when she sees footage of a school bombing on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realizes there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. Soon, she will find that she is not the only one to have suspicions about the reporter. Gibney is one of King’s recurring characters, having appeared in his Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch), and The Outsider.
The story centers on the aforementioned writer, a man named Drew Larson with an acclaimed short story to his credit. He’s given himself over to academia because every time he tries to turn a good idea into a novel, things go seriously bad – mentally, physically, or both. But his latest concept, a Western thriller, is gangbusters, and he goes out to an old family cabin in the woods to get the novel done. When storms, insecurities, and sickness hit, Drew strikes a sinister bargain with a rat that turns out to be a thought-provoking spin on a “Monkey’s Paw” situation. The rat offers to get rid of his writer’s block in exchange for one of Larson’s loved ones dying. Thinking that Larson’s imagination is getting the best of him he agrees and goes about his day. Finally, when the storm clears Larson returns home to his family.
“If It Bleeds” Yields 3 Different Movies
As for the deals that are already on the table, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” is going to be a joint effort between Blumhouse, Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story), and Netflix. The streaming giant enjoys being in the King business, with movies based on the novel Gerald’s Game and the stories “1922” and “In the Tall Grass” (the latter co-written with King’s son Joe Hill) already available on the service.
John Lee Hancock (The Founder) will adapt the story and direct the film, in which a teenager begins getting messages from the iPhone he gifted to an elderly man he worked for — and which was buried with the man when he died.
“Rat” is the story of an author named Drew Larson, crippled by writer’s block and illness, who makes a surreal pact with a rat at his secluded cabin where he’s trying to write. The rat offers to cure his writer’s block in exchange for the life of one of Larson’s loved ones. Hilarity ensues. This one has been optioned by Ben Stiller, who intends to star — as Larson, we presume, and not the rat — as well as produce and direct.
The third story, “The Life of Chuck”, has been snatched by Protozoa Pictures, the production banner of filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Mother!). At this point, Aronofsky is on board only as a producer. But the story, which begins with a man dying of a brain tumor at 39 and works backward through several eerie incidents in his life, sounds like something we wouldn’t mind seeing Aronofsky get behind the camera for.
“If It Bleeds”, the fourth story in the collection, has a different and interesting situation: the tale centers around Holly Gibney, the psychically gifted private detective who has appeared in four King novels to date and the TV productions based on them: HBO’s The Outsider, where she was played by Cynthia Erivo, and Audience Network’s Mr. Mercedes, the adaptation of the Bill Hodges trilogy in which she was portrayed by Justine Lupe.
Are you excited?
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