Sundance prize-winning filmmaker Nikytatu Jusu has unveiled new details about her forthcoming feature for Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw and Universal that we told you first about in January.
While details on the horror film had previously been scarce, we now know that it will in some form adapt Jusu’s own short film Suicide by Sunlight, which world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. “My project with Monkeypaw is an expansion of a short film I made called Suicide by Sunlight,” the multi-hyphenate revealed today, “about day-walking Black vampires who are protected from the sun by their melanin.”
Jusu’s comments came during a panel at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles, as part of Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles awards-season showcase. While it’s unclear how closely her Suicide feature will hew to the story of her acclaimed short, the original piece was set in a near-future New York City, more specifically telling the story of Valentina (Natalie Paul), a day-walking Black vampire protected from the sun by her melanin, who finds it difficult to suppress her bloodlust when a new woman is introduced to her estranged twin daughters.
Jusu’s feature adaptation is being made under Monkeypaw’s overall deal at Universal. The filmmaker will adapt the screenplay with Fredrica Bailey.
Jusu also today discussed the new Night of the Living Dead film — based on George A. Romero’s zombie classic —that she’s been tapped to helm for Village Roadshow Pictures, Chris Romero and the late George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, Origin Story, Vertigo and Westbrook Studios, as we were first to report. “The original made social commentary about racism and classism and all the -isms, and the best zombie films make commentary on humanity,” noted the director. “I have the blessing from…George Romero’s estate, and so that feels really good because it feels organic.” Jusu will helm that title from a script by The Walking Dead’s LaToya Morgan.
The creative’s Saturday appearance at Deadline’s Contenders came in support of her feature directorial debut, Nanny, which this year became the first horror film to win Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize. (Jusu at the same time became just the second Black female filmmaker to claim it.) The upcoming film penned by Jusu follows the Senegalese immigrant nanny Aisha (Diop), watching as she attempts to piece together a new life in New York City while caring for the child of an Upper East Side family. It’s during this time that Aisha is forced to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American Dream.
The film acquired earlier this year by Amazon Studios and Blumhouse will open in limited release on November 23, debuting on Prime Video on December 16.