Why Isn't This A Film? - Alan Wake

What have we got here then?

Alan Wake is a 2010 video game available on Microsoft's Xbox360 console. Produced by the Remedy studio (who previously worked on Max Payne) the game received critical praise upon release and went on to sell 145,000 copies in its first two weeks on sale in the UK.

OK fine. What’s it about?

Alan Wake is a writer taking a break with his wife in the town of Bright Falls when strange things start to happen. Alan's wife, Alice, goes missing after a blackout at their cabin after which Alan comes to on a cliff ledge having apparently passed out.

Interesting. Is there something more?

Wake finds himself pursued by dark figures known as The Taken - townsfolk who appear under the influence of a demonic force. He struggles to convince surviving normal town members of his plight but the arrival of his agent, Barry Wheeler, and the local sheriff, Sarah Breaker, give him hope that he may be able to find his wife and exit the nightmare of Bright Falls.

Save me the trouble then – is it any good?

The basic story ensures you are drawn into the Alan Wake mystery whilst the simple 'advance through X location, killing X number of bad guys' gameplay structure is enough to keep you engaged in playing through to the end. It feels very reminiscent of similar third person adventures Silent Hill and Resident Evil but with a slightly more original take on the supernatural playing out behind it. The characters, cut scenes and background paraphernalia flesh out the tale convincingly and the game moves swiftly to what is perhaps an all-too sudden conclusion.


It's over way too quickly (the game can easily be beaten in less than ten hours) and the simplistic and repetitive gameplay can get old soon; when I finished I struggled to find the motivation to play the add-on packs. The conclusion, whilst ultimately satisfying, lacks the twist that the preamble suggests it might have and all the way through the game lacks the challenge of its more advanced relatives. Enjoyable but light as a feather on several fronts.

What are its chances of being made as a film?

The game's episodic nature is presented more as a TV show which, on face value, would be the more obvious choice for Alan Wake to move to. Having said that, it might be too obvious a choice: we can kind of already see from the game what structure a series would take, making a film the next big step in moving Alan forwards. Sam Lake, who wrote both Alan Wake and Max Payne, suggested in an interview prior to the game's release that Remedy were keeping their options open on all fronts but would certainly consider a film adaptation if the opportunity came along.

But who'd star in it?

Picking an Alan Wake is difficult; he would need to be a thirty to forty-five year-old actor who can pull off being both a writer and a quasi-action film star. Having just missed out on the Uncharted adaptation, perhaps Nathan Fillion might be willing to step into Alan's shoes whilst, if neither of them are to be the new Superman, Matthew Goode or Jon Hamm would also fit. We recently suggested that Robert Downey Jr. needs to play something a bit darker than usual and if the studio who picked this up wanted to throw a lot of money at it then they could certainly do far worse.

Like so many 'best friend/comedy relief' roles, Barry Wheeler is made for Oliver Platt whilst, in a bit of supernatural series cross-over, Gillian Anderson would be great as Sheriff Breaker. Ruth Sheen has been getting good reviews for Another Year and she would be great as key character Cynthia Weaver who proves important later on. The Andersons, an ageing heavy rock duo, are tailor made for celebrity cameos.

Will it be any good?

The story is good and with a bit of fleshing out and more definite conclusion this could work as a serious horror/thriller. Of course, we've had the talk before about films based on videogames...

Anything else I should know about it?

Based on sales and a recent chat with a key Remedy employee, a sequel to the game seems inevitable.

Why Isn't This A Film? is a regular Film Intel feature which takes a book (you know... one of those things with pages in, doesn't project on to a screen, makes small rustling noises), comic, video game or graphic novel and assesses its adaptation prospects. One day this feature will get something right and we will win something major and valuable. Possibly.

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