Murder. Drama. Mystery. Comedy. Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has it all and even more. Not only is it the longest running play of ALL TIME but it's also critically acclaimed, masterfully written, and endlessly appealing. High schools, colleges, community theatres, and even the big league stages perform this play every year-- over 25,000 times since it was written-- which begs the question, where's the movie? Well, there were a few attempts in '60 and '90 but neither of them were direct adaptations of this play. If Hollywood is running out of originally ideas, The Mousetrap is the perfect play to big to the big screen; and here's why...
You see, this play has everything you need for a good, low budget film (something Hollywood is in dire need of). Its the isolated story of seven strangers trapped in a Gothic manor in the middle of a blizzard in the 1950's. When the news of a killer on the loose nearby reaches the home, it leads to all of the inhabitants suspecting and fearing one another. Their eccentric-- and albeit suspicious-- personalities clash on every frontier. The arrival of a detective in the middle of the night leads to all sorts of backstabbing, investigating, hilarity, horror, drama, and all you could possibly want from a character driven movie. Oh, and did I mention that one of the eight characters is the murderer?
Still not sold? Well let me break it down for you step by step: setting, director, and of course, characters/casting.
Setting: Monkswell Manor
As stated before, this movie will take place in a large, Gothic-styled old mansion that has been recently retrofitted to become a bed 'n breakfast inn. The owners, Mollie and Giles Ralston, are newly weds who inherited the house and aren't quite fit to run the place. Monkswell Manor is massive and dusty with entire rooms not being touched. The main action of the story takes place in a tall living room full of arm chairs, an ornate hearth, a writing desk, a table bar, and a wide set of glass windows. It's a welcoming room but feels as if an out-of-touch grandma put it together with many mismatched sofas, chairs, old curtains, and dank oil paintings. Upstairs is where the guest rooms are but right off of this living room is a library-- fit with a grand piano-- and the kitchen; both of which play roles in the show. The entire show takes place in a day and a half during which a terrible blizzard cuts the manor off and strands all characters in the house and unable to communicate with anybody. The perfect setting for a murderer to to continue their killing spree.
Finding the right director for this show is hard. It really depends on the tone the movie is going for. Its a very dialogue and character driven play so that would have to transfer over to the movie. Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) would be a good choice to master the quick, sharp, and natural conversations but he's a little to... graphic?... controversial let's say for this source material. It just wouldn't fit the version of the movie I'm envisioning. This movie could easily become a dark comedy with slightly off putting humor, so perhaps the Coen Brothers (Big Lebowski, True Grit, Fargo) would be able to capture that. They have experience with star studded casts and eccentric personalities which would be great for The Mousetrap but I'm afraid the movie would become more comedy centric and less drama/mystery. My next choice was Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario) because I think he can really channel the suspense and intensity of his actors. Prisoners had me on the edge of my seat the entire time which is what you really want in a confined, murder movie like this one. But there is no semblance of humor in his movies which I think is essential-- at least a little bit-- for Mousetrap so I can't pick him. So my choice, in the end, is David Fincher (Gone Girl, Fight Club, Social Network) who can really bring the drama, highlight his actors, and master dialogue. Most of his films are very character driven and emotional but not without their own form of sophisticated humor. Fincher can work with a large cast and can get exactly what he wants from big name actors making him my number one pick.
Do you agree? Any other suggestions for director?
The first day that Mollie and Giles open their house to guests, five people show up. Each guest brings their own craziness to the house until the whole place seems a little too full. The snow keeps falling thicker and thicker outside until the entire manor is cut off from the outside world. Before the phones cut out, a policeman calls Mollie informing her and the surrounding homes that a killer was on the loose. The news gets out and makes every guest in the house begin to turn on each other. Right at the moment that they're all about to rip each other's throats out, a detective shows up out of the storm. An investigation ensues with each guest getting personal evaluations and turning on one another. Terror, doubt, anger, and suspicion follow as the claustrophobic mystery begins to unravel everybody's background, secrets, and horrible lies.
Like I've said, there are eight characters in this show: the two who run the manor, the five guests, and the detective. They are all very different with their own crazy idiosyncrasies and ticks. But you don't really want to listen to me, you want to see my fan-casting! Comment below if you have better suggestions or actors that I didn't think of. Either way, let's get on with it.
As the proprietor of Monkswell Manor, Mollie is a very responsible, very organized, young lady who just recently married Giles. She's a beautiful, wide-eyed woman who seems to be innocent in the world of hardship. She's put together and seems to be the more dominant one in her marriage. When she was even younger, she used to be a teacher but gave that up in order to look after her family's massive house. She's intelligent, not afraid of confrontation, and always knows what has to be but she's susceptible to doubt in others. Underneath it all, she harbours a dark secret. My choice:
Not only is she gorgeous but she's an incredibly talented actress who can really bring drama and gravitas to her roles. Mollie is really the character through which the audience sees, so she has to be an popular actress that we all connect with. She can bring the innocence to a role without seeming foolish or childish. In The Imitation Game she also showed that she can play a very intelligent character which will play well into Mousetrap.
He's really second-fiddle to Mollie and isn't that remarkable of a character. He truly loves his wife but can come off as arrogant, entitled, and even easily angered. He's likeable and a bit of a people pleaser, but is almost always has his wife's back. Giles is attractive, friendly, and a bit hapless; often seeming to screw up. Although he seems a bit foolish, he has this anger hidden beneath it all. My choice:
He might be younger than Knightley but in the context of the movie, they will be the same age. In fact, his youth would actually play well into Mollie and Giles' dynamic. She would seem to be more mature, more collected than him with Giles appearing slightly foolish and obedient. He's tall, good looking, but relatively unassuming. Hoult can act very friendly but still entitled all the while fitting into a large ensemble without overpowering his other actors.
The first and most eccentric guest to arrive at the Manor is Christopher Wren; a wild-looking, irreverent young man who always appears unstable and childish. He often sings nursery rhymes to himself, avoids other people's personal space, and has extreme interests in architecture, food, and art. His neurotic behavior tries to mask a deep, high intelligence and analytical prowess. He's insecure--always craving love and attention-- and very unhinged. He shouts and panics at a moment's notice giving others the impression of mental insanity and a hint of cruelty. My choice:
Rheon is a very underrated, underutilized actor who should be given more roles with more prominence. He's charismatic, energetic, and can act very unstable; just look at "Ramsay Bolton". He's good looking enough to be able to flirt with Mollie but just scary enough to be thought a murderer. He's very talented and can really act the crazy but smart. His style of acting can keep the audience on their seats with tension or engage them with humor.
If there is ever a character that personifies stuck up and tightly wound, it is Mrs. Boyle. She was a former magistrate and a stern woman who, after decades of doing things by the book, has become cynical, condescending, and cruel. She's outspoken, militant, and even abusive. Boyle is very bad tempered and a very traditional woman who can't stand progressivism or any kind of change to the norm. She expects perfection, attention, and obedience at all times; treating others like second class citizens or even servants. Her tough attitude hides a dark past. My choice:
A stern woman if there ever was one; Dench is a powerful, strong woman who can take the air out of a room with just a look. With fantastic roles under her belt, she has proved time and time again that she is a force to be reckoned with. She can play a great supporting character with her own highlights. Judi Dench is sure to bring class, traditionalism, and ferocity to Mrs. Boyle.
A veteran and tough man, Major Metcalf is a strong, quiet type. He doesn't say much but what he does say leaves an impact. His military background give him an organized, determined, and even aggressive attitude. In general, he's mild mannered and solitary, but is a constant observer and has a keen eye. Nothing goes over his head or slipped by his gaze. His secretive nature makes others distrust him and he refuses to tell anything personal about himself. My choice:
He's talented, experienced, intimidating, and has a history of playing law enforcement/military characters. Gleeson has worked in large casts before and can hold his own against actors like Colin Farrel, Mel Gibson, and Gary Oldman. Gleeson is a very strong man who can do more with his silence than he needs to do with is words. He has screen presence that will stop a quiet character from fading into the background of a dialogue driven film.
Katherine Casewell is a progressive, "mannish" woman who throws away traditional roles with nonchalance and always talks educatedly and articulately. She's worldly, up-to-date, and stubborn. She can be very passive aggressive or blunt, depending on her mood. She's unpredictable, sardonic, brazen, and a little uncontrolled. At moments, she can open up about a painful past with a deep darkness but usually keeps it locked up under layers of sarcasm, grit, and a brazen disregard for the feelings of others. My choice:
Not only do I love Emily Blunt as an actress but I'm also dying for her to get more stardom. She's making her way up the list but I don't feel like she's cracked the top yet. Blunt can pull off a strong woman; a strong, complex, multi-layered woman. She has a history of playing tough characters who can be, at times, very vulnerable and honest. She's beautiful but not distractingly so. She's extremely talented and well-versed in cinema. Emily Blunt would be a perfect Casewell and a great addition to this star filled cast.
The last resident to arrive is a suspicious, uninvited one; he wears a thick layer of make up to hide his age, speaks in a forced, Eastern European accent, and even dresses in all black with mysterious belongings. He wasn't even invited to the manor but got in a crash outside and was forced to seek refuge with the other characters. He's secretive, cunning, and seems to be always lying. This off-putting attitude is matched with an incredible wit, charm, and bravado. He has a mischievous way about him and often times acts truly diabolical. My choice:
Sacha Baron Cohen
Mostly known for his outrageous comedy, Cohen has the opportunity to channel a little bit of drama or darkness to this role. Paravicini is a funny role but can still have a evil side which I think Cohen can bring to the table. He's scene stealing-- even from Hugh Jackman-- charismatic, and always seems to be up to something. "Thenardier" is a very close character to Paravicini: both always looking for "what's in it for them' and keeping secrets. He's tall, lean, and won't seem to fit in with the rest of the cast.
Detective Sgt. Trotter
What happens when you combine a killer on the loose, a hectic storm, and a house full of questionable character? One fed up, stressed out detective. Trotter is a dutiful, young detective who is always trying to do his best and get to the bottom of this crime. He starts as unassuming and friendly but starts to unravel as the group of suspects refuse to cooperate, constantly lie to him, and even begin to disrespect his authority. He's hearty, tough, but still a little unconventional, often times pushing the suspects to the limits. He obviously has lived a life of pain and discontent which is shown by his passion for justice and law. My choice:
McAvoy is well spoken, a great actor, and always brings all he has to every role. He has passion and fire but can still be controlled and calculating. He's just the right combination of unassuming and commanding; taking control over a large cast as "Professor Xavier". He is fairly short and lean but he's got a fantastic presence and can really take charge in a scene. Trotter, though not the lead character, has the majority of the lines in the movie and they would be excellently delivered by McAvoy.
There we have it! The cast! Keira Knightley, Nicholas Hoult, Iwan Rheon, Judi Dench, Brendan Gleeson, Emily Blunt, Sacha Baron Cohen, and James McAvoy; an incredibly full cast with a great range of talent, charisma, and experience. Which one's the murderer? Will they all last until the very end? They would have great chemistry and created a very well made, fantastically acted movie. Not one of these actors would overshadow the others nor would any of the actors sink into the background. Their personalities would mesh and possibly create a breathtaking film.
Do you agree? Are you interested in this film now? Comment below!
Oh, by the way, if you know who the killer is, do not spoil it for others. Please.
Well, 'til next time!