EXCLUSIVE: The independent horror publisher and production company DreadXP and its parent company Epic Pictures Group are prepping a live-action feature adaptation of the supernatural first-person horror video game The Mortuary Assistant, which the former company partnered on with independent developer DarkStone Digital.
The Mortuary Assistant brings players into the world of Mortician Rebecca Owens, who thinks her first night on the job will be embalming a surplus of corpses, though she soon learns a sinister presence resides at River Fields Mortuary. As the dead awaken and malevolent spirits bind themselves to her, Rebecca has to learn how to combat demons (including the figurative demons of her past), in order to survive the night. The supernatural horror game, developed by DarkStone’s Brian Clarke, is available for purchase for Windows PC on Steam.
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Since its launch in early August, The Mortuary Assistant has taken off as an internet phenomenon — achieving a top 10 streamed games spot on Twitch, becoming a Top Seller on Steam, and garnering additional attention on TikTok. It has been played by such top gaming YouTubers as Markiplier and Jacksepticeye, with all YouTube videos surrounding the game having garnered tens of millions of views.
Jeremiah Kipp (Slapface) will direct the Mortuary Assistant film from his own script. Patrick Ewald will produce, with Clarke and Ted Hentschke exec producing, and Abbey Smith serving as co-producer, with castings to be announced at a later date. Publisher DreadXP will be in attendance at the Seattle gaming conference PAX West 2022 from September 2-5 to discuss the project, while touting others on its current and upcoming slate.
“There’s a quiet, unnerving intensity to The Mortuary Assistant that creeps into the player, creating a sense that something terrible could happen at any moment,” said Kipp. “Writing the adaptation, I wanted to celebrate all of the game that terrified me as well as create a companion piece to it — honoring the dense creepy world developer Brian Clarke (DarkStone Digital) made and translating it into the visual storytelling and character driven horror of narrative filmmaking.”
Kipp continued, “I want to retain the minimalist setting in and around the mortuary, the fascination with the process of embalming, and the nerve shredding terror of the gameplay. Rebecca Owens is a fascinating character, vulnerable because of a traumatic past and committed in her self-reliance. It has been a truly crazy ride living in Brian’s twisted world, and that’s the experience we want to give the viewer.”
“It’s such a rare and exciting opportunity to have your work adapted into film. It’s certainly something I never imagined would happen to me when I started developing the game two years ago,” said Clarke. “Movies have always been the main inspiration for the style of my games. I’m always trying to create story, dialogue, and moments that feel filmic, so an opportunity to bring this project full circle is making a dream of mine a reality.”
Continued the game’s creator: “These characters and their stories are extremely important and personal to me. I’m honored to have people as talented as Jeremiah Kipp and devoted as Patrick Ewald, Ted Hentschke (Head of Production at DreadXP), and Abbey Smith (co-producer at DreadXP) to bring it all to life. Jeremiah is an amazingly skilled storyteller and I’m so excited to see him expand The Mortuary Assistant in new and different ways. I want the adaptation to be a great movie before anything else and I know it’s in great hands. I’m thrilled to be working with such passionate people.”
“The incredible reception to The Mortuary Assistant has cemented it as one of DreadXP’s most successful games to date,” added Ewald, who serves as Epic Pictures Group’s CEO. “The world Brian Clarke created is rich with lore and the perfect subject to expand upon with a live-action feature film. DreadXP’s parent company Epic Pictures Group is already in a prime position to make that happen, having financed, produced, and distributed over 100 films over the past 15 years.”
Kipp previously wrote and directed the horror-thriller Slapface, now available on AMC+ and Shudder, as well as the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired Black Wake. Additional credits on the directing side include the short Draw Up & Stare, starring Academy Award winner Melissa Leo; the Chinese-American co-production Broken Badges, and The Sadist, starring Tom Savini. The director is currently in post on his latest feature, The Boo Hag, filmed earlier this year in Georgia, and the film Don’t Pick Up starring Keith David and Kathryn Erbe.
DreadXP focuses on unique, experimental titles that have been overlooked by the bigger labels. Additional titles from the company include Digital Dragons’ Best Indie Game of 2022 – First Place award winner Sucker for Love: First Date and the Dread X Collection series, Spookware. Other upcoming titles include Hand of Doom, My Friendly Neighborhood, Mirror Forge and Spookware Episode 2.
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