‘A Series Of Unfortunate Events’ author to write horror film based on Golem of Prague

Story set for modern-day version; ‘Everyone knows what it feels like to be the underdog, the outsider,’ producer says. ‘Jewish stories tackle these ideas with humor and drama’

Rabbi Judah Loew and the Golem of Prague as painted by Mikoláš Aleš, 1899 (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)
Rabbi Judah Loew and the Golem of Prague as painted by Mikoláš Aleš, 1899 (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

JTA — The Jewish author of best-selling children’s book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events” has been tapped to write a horror film based on the legend of the Golem of Prague.

Daniel Handler, known by his pen name “Lemony Snicket,” will write the movie for independent Jewish production company Leviathan Productions, from veteran film producer Ben Cosgrove and Josh Foer, a freelance journalist, the co-founder of the adventure travel brand Atlas Obscura and co-founder of Sefaria, the open-source Jewish text library.

The film will update the 16th-century narrative of the golem, where Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel created an anthropomorphic golem out of clay or mud to protect the ghetto from antisemitic attacks.

In the upcoming film, “a young woman on a college campus finds herself terrorized by a creature with a mysterious past,” Deadline reports.

In the classic golem legend, the Hebrew word for “truth,” “emet” is inscribed on the golem’s body, giving it its powers. Once the golem becomes destructive, the only way to kill it is to remove the letter “aleph,” which leaves the remaining word for “death,” or in Hebrew, “met.”

Handler grew up in a household that “hovered between Reform and Conservative Judaism,” he told Moment Magazine in 2007. And, the main characters of his beloved gothically dark and humorous “Series of Unfortunate Events,” which was adapted into a 2004 film and a 2017 Netflix series, are Jewish.

Daniel Handler in 2022 (YouTube screenshot)

“Yes. The Baudelaires are Jewish! I guess we would not know for sure but we would strongly suspect it, not only from their manner but from the occasional mention of a rabbi or bar mitzvah or synagogue,” he said. “The careful reader will find quite a few rabbis.”

Handler is also the author of a children’s book, “The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming,” about an angry potato pancake telling the Hanukkah story while running into various Christmas symbols who are uneducated about Jewish history.

Leviathan Productions has acquired a number of other projects with Jewish themes, including “Photograph 51,” a play by Anna Ziegler about Rosalind Franklin, the British Jewish chemist who discovered the structure of DNA; “The Secret Chord,” a novel by Geraldine Brooks about King David; and “The Pledge,” a 1970 nonfiction book by Leonard Slater about the US’s role in Israel’s 1948 war for independence.

“Jewish stories have incredible resonance because they explore ideas that are universally identifiable,” Cosgrove told Deadline. “Everyone knows what it feels like to be the underdog, the outsider, or the immigrant. Jewish stories tackle these ideas with humor and drama, and people around the world see themselves in our stories.”

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