It was close to four years ago that we heard Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio were teaming once again for a feature adaptation of Erik Larsen’s nonfiction novel The Devil in the White City. There’s been some silence on the project since then, but news comes today that the film has now become a series, set to be developed at Hulu.
Devil concerns itself largely with the lives of serial killer Dr Henry Howard Holmes and architect Daniel Burnham, set amidst the glamorous and chaotic backdrop of 1893 Chicago, and the World’s Fair of that year. Burnham served as the Director of Works at the Fair, while Holmes has gained notoriety as the titular “devil,” running a hotel on the sprawling fairgrounds in which he killed several of his nine confirmed victims.
Initially for the film Scorsese was brought on to direct DiCaprio, who had acquired the rights to the book in 2010 and was letting the script by Billy Ray cook for awhile. Reports are now coming in that Scorsese and DiCaprio will serve as executive producers, with any directorial or acting involvement to be determined.
I happened to literally pick Larsen’s book up off the street a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. He’s a talented writer and compiler, whose marriage of filmic pacing and suspense with minute historical detail really makes his stuff read, and Devil seems to be his trademark novel for its merging of the epic and the intimate.
Scorsese’s knack for urban America seemed a good choice for Larsen’s story, so his role in producing might be a winning ticket in assembling the set and costume designers a tale like this demands. And did we really want to see our boy DiCaprio hack people apart like a madman? Time and your conscious will tell!