Mother Nature–A cryptic adaptation of Jamie Lee Curtis’s possible next horror movie

Review by C.J. Bunce

Many a movie is created with a graphic novel idea as the impetus.  Sometimes the graphic novel may be viewed as a try-on set of storyboards to sell a project and it never actually gets published.  Sometimes the movie idea is dropped and only the graphic novel sees the light of day.  With Jamie Lee Curtis’s next project, Mother Nature, we get the graphic novel adaptation of the movie’s script as a preview.  This is one of those projects where the studio–Blumhouse–and the writer-director would seem like an obvious winning combination.  But the graphic novel suffers from some storytelling obstacles.  It also struggles to find itself–making a serious statement about climate change and environmentalism or being just another slasher horror picture.

Initial press materials reported the story was to be a movie directed by Jamie Lee Curtis–written by Curtis, and co-written by Russell Goldman, and that the graphic novel was an adaptation in comics form by Karl Stevens.  But at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con this month Curtis stated, “We may well make this into a movie at some point… That would be fun. Maybe I’ll direct it, maybe I’ll co-direct it, maybe I’ll be in it, and maybe I’ll do all of it.”  So who knows?   Mother Nature–the graphic novel–is coming your way in two weeks.

Hopefully the movie lands better than this adaptation.  Unfortunately Stevens’ artwork makes it difficult to differentiate between the characters.  In the first third of the story it’s difficult to understand characters’ roles and what’s going on.  It’s vaguely about an ex-con whose father died trying to sabotage an oil well.  Her mother bails her out of jail when she’s caught doing the same kind of activity.  Then some type of supernatural activity happens–perhaps a hallucination?

Typically stories that don’t work suffer from the opposite problem as this graphic novel–they “tell” too much and don’t show readers enough.  Here the narrative could use some background and explanations so readers can fully understand the stakes involved.  Chapter breaks with headings introducing each new setting and group of people would have gone a long way to aid the reader make sense of the steps of the story.

The story is some kind of cautionary tale with fantasy elements, but it sure seems like a re-watch of Erin Brockovich or Silkwood–movies about real-life environmentalist/safety regulation crusaders–might be time better spent.  It also includes some Native American characters, but their purpose and role in the story is also not explained.  A floating yellow entity filled with light arrives and leaves that is somehow related to the Native American mysticism.  But the what and why seem shoe-horned in as an afterthought.

Although its marketing conjured The X-Files star Gillian Anderson’s Earthend Saga novels (discussed here at borg) and the artwork from the graphic novel has the vibe of Mike Norton’s illustrations in the creepy rural noir series Revival and Terry Moore’s supernatural elements in Rachel Rising, unfortunately it doesn’t measure up to either.

Ultimately this story is too cryptic to be understood.  But it is clear that a story that seems intended to do some good–to talk about environmentalism–devolves into face-melting bloody slasher horror stuff.  The best that can be said for the artwork is Stevens captures Jamie Lee Curtis’s facial expressions well for the character she expects to portray, if there is a forthcoming movie.



Hopefully the film explains what’s going on better.  For those wanting a jump on the movie, you can pre-order the graphic novel Mother Nature now here at Amazon or add it to your pull list at Elite Comics or your local comic shop now.  It’s coming your way from Titan Comics, slated to arrive August 8.


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