Fox Bringing Donner Party Cannibal Tale to the Screen with ‘The Hunger’

     August 18, 2016

Accounts of the Donner Party have fascinated all corners of society for the past century, because apparently people can’t get enough of stories about folks eating each other (see also: the litany of crazy cannibal movies that already exist). Indeed, Deadline reports that 20th Century Fox has just acquired a proposal for a novel called The Hunger to be penned by Alma Katsu, which puts a Walking Dead-style twist on the account of mid-19th century pioneers who resorted to cannibalism to survive following a series of mishaps and mistakes.

The studio has set Luke Scott, son of filmmaker Ridley Scott, to write and direct the picture fresh off his feature directing debut Morgan, the upcoming sci-fi film about the creation of a synthetic human that goes south. The younger Scott has been looking to make the move to features for some time now, as he served as second unit director on his father’s films The Martian, Exodus, and most recently Alien: Covenant. For a time Scott was in line to direct Prometheus, but simply ended up helming all of the viral videos for the Alien prequel instead. Ridley Scott will produce The Hunger through his Scott Free banner.


Image via 20th Century Fox

For those unfamiliar, the Donner Party refers to a group of pioneers led by George Donner and James F. Reed who set out on a wagon train journey from Wyoming to California in 1846. They became snowbound in Sierra Nevada, and facing starvation some in the party turned to cannibalism to survive, going so far as to strip bodies of muscle and organs and dry them out to eat later. They took care to ensure that no one ate a relative (how nice!), and at one point even considered a lottery to decide who should be murdered in order to become food for the others (see also: the true story of the whaleship Essex). The conditions were so harsh, however, that this wouldn’t be necessary—plenty died of exposure, malnutrition, and starvation anyway.

It’s unclear what this “Walking Dead-style twist” entails, but one imagines some form of zombies will surface in The Hunger—perhaps as a result of cannibalism, one turns into an undead? The book isn’t being released until early 2018, but Fox made a pretty hefty preemptive deal for the rights, so the project could get off the ground in the near future. And Morgan looks pretty promising so hey, this could be kinda good!


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