What We Want Out of AMC’s ‘NOS4A2’


Last month it was reported that AMC is putting a television adaptation of Joe Hill’s 2013 bestseller NOS4A2 into motion. Although that’s basically the gist of all that is known so far (aside from the fact that the folks behind Netflix’s Bojack Horseman will also be behind it), it’s clear that AMC is going to have to put forth a lot of work making sure that the adaptation is true to Hill’s novel. Granted, AMC has taken liberties with other works based off of print before (see The Walking Dead), but in all honesty NOS4A2 is perfect horror for this generation and should be adapted as such.

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In short, the series centers around Victoria “Vic” McQueen, a strong creative who is somehow able to use her bike to cut through reality and find things. However, this takes a toll on her mind over several years, as her life and sanity takes a downward spiral. Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, the jolly old Charlie Manx kidnaps young children and takes them to a place in his inscape with his ultra-rare 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith, where he turns them into psychotic little vampires in hopes of protecting them from the harshness of growing up.

It only takes one encounter between the two to change everything in both of their lives, when McQueen narrowly escapes Manx during her teen years and is able to have him put away in prison. But, as everyone knows, in the horror genre forever isn’t forever. It is the buildup to their big climax that makes this novel so great. It jumps between two time periods involving both McQueen and Manx, and the depth that Hill goes into describing their plights is what makes him on par to be a better writer than his father.

Regarding the show, as understandable as some studio liberties are, the basics are pretty cut-and-dry. For one, the actress they may pick for McQueen needs to be convincing in terms of being something of a down-on-her-luck loser with a tough streak. Some like Mary Elizabeth Winstead would work, especially basing her performance off of her work in the movie Smashed.

Manx would be a bit easy to work with: Martin Short. Sure, the guy primarily does comedy and always comes across as one of those lovable characters both good or bad. But considering Manx is cheery in all that he does, albeit a bit psychotic, Short would be the best bet to convey some of that happy madness on the screen. Wild-eyed and evil, Short has the potential to be truly unsettling and disturbing on camera.

Other ideas for other characters include Jonah Hill as Lou Carmody, Anna Kendrick as Maggie, and Sarah Paulson as FBI Agent Tabitha Hutter. Of course, this is just one writer’s speculations. However, reading the novel, it’s hard to imagine those characters as anyone else on the screen.

Something else regarding the world of Christmasland: Make it a cross between Tim Burton and Marilyn Manson. That’s the way Hill’s world comes across, and if they make the world of Christmasland just as insane it would come across nicely with the perfect endgame in mind. This place is supposed to be a cross between manic and insane, AMC, so get it done.

One other thing. This is a story that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Therefore the studio needs to pace this well and not try to hunt for extra material as much as they have for The Walking Dead. If they must, they should also draw from the prequel comic Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland. That should help immensely with the show’s pacing. But other than that, with The Walking DeadHalt and Catch FirePreacher, and that crazy kung-fu show, it’s safe to say AMC is cornering the market on good shows, and NOS4A2 is in safe hands.