John McNaughton ends 11-year bigscreen absence with horror thriller

After an 11-year absence from the bigscreen, “Wild Things” director John McNaughton is set to return for psychological horror thriller “The Harvest,” for which Michael Shannon and Samantha Morton have come aboard to star alongside Natasha Calis.

Living Out Loud Prods. is financing “The Harvest” for under $10 million, while Elephant Eye Films will handle international sales. In addition to Calis (“The Possession”), pic co-stars Charlie Tahan (“Frankenweenie”), Leslie Lyles and Meadow Williams.

Written by Stephen Lancellotti, “The Harvest” stars Morton and Shannon as a married couple with medical backgrounds and a sick son (Tahan) who lives secluded in a controlled environment until a young girl (Calis) moves in next door and gives him hope of a better life. As the teens grow closer, the tight-knit world his over-protective mother has created begins to unravel.

Kim Jose, David Robinson and Steven A. Jones are producing with Williams. Production is under way in New York.

“This is the first horror script I’ve been interested in in 25 years, so it’s kind of cool to return to the genre,” said McNaughton, whose debut feature, the controversial 1986 pic “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer,” earned widespread acclaim.

“I got the script a few years ago and loved the story, which is dark and has a great twist. It’s like a cross between ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” explained the helmer.

Elephant Eye spent five years developing the project before attaching Shannon, whose involvement led to Morton signing on, as the duo had long wanted to work together.

In addition to Lionsgate’s hit horror pic “The Possession,” Calis also starred on NBC’s “The Firm” as Josh Lucas’ daughter.

Shannon, who was Oscar nominated for “Revolutionary Road,” can currently be seen in “Grace” on Broadway and on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” He next stars in WB’s “Man of Steel,” David Wain’s comedy “They Came Together” and the hitman drama “The Iceman.”

Morton, who earned Oscar nominations for “Sweet & Lowdown” and “In America,” will next be seen in Spike Jonze’s “Her.”

CAA reps Shannon and Calis along with Wetzel Entertainment and Impression Entertainment, respectively. Morton is repped by Conway van Gelder Grant and Principato-Young, while Abrams Artists Agency reps Tahan, who just wrapped Woody Allen’s next film.

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