Blumhouse, today, announced that it is developing Our Lady of Tears, a film based on the Epic Magazine article, The Haunting of Girlstown, which was republished, today, by Vox. The story describes an epidemic of mass hysteria with supernatural roots at an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Mexico City in 2007. The pic will be written and directed by Issa L&ópez, who earned a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97% Fresh for her Tigers Are Not Afraid, telling the story of a young girl who, after her mother disappears, joins a gang of street children, leading to a tragic chain of events.
“The students carried the girl into the classroom. She was 12 years old, very thin, and her lower body was rigid, as if she were paralyzed. The classroom was beige, with a crucifix on the wall and a collection of empty desks. The students navigated the girl to a chair, lowered her down, and retreated. A group of nuns waited outside, leaving her alone with the government psychiatrist.”
L&ópez said, in a statement, “The moment I read the Epic article, I knew I wanted to tell this story. I myself attended a Catholic school in Mexico City. I grew up on a steady diet of supernatural visitations and miracles, and of the real life horrors that young girls who grow up in poverty face every day in Mexico, and around the world. Having the chance to tell that story with Jason and his team, producers of such socially incisive genre classics like Get Out, and of so many true horror gems, is a huge privilege. I couldn’t be more excited about this movie.”
“It was March 2007 and nearly everyone at Girlstown, a Catholic boarding school in Chalco, Mexico, was panicked. Months earlier, some students had begun complaining of a piercing sensation in their legs. Some were overcome with nausea and fevers. Some talked of suicide. State and federal inspectors and epidemiologists were sent to test the environment: the food, the water, the soil. But the results showed nothing unusual. Then they tested the girls themselves – for brucellosis, leptospirosis, and rickettsiosis. Still, they found nothing. It was as though the school had fallen under a spell.”
During the ‘outbreak’, the attending nuns and others blamed witchcraft, malignant spirits and tests of God. To young girls, born and nurtured in extreme poverty, the promise of a boarding school, an education and hope for the future was what drove them. They would give up their families, their worldly possessions. Some would become nuns and others would graduate with high school or technical diplomas. The promise seemed worth the compromise until the ‘outbreak’ struck. Among strict rules and isolation, the girls were not allowed to visit or speak to relatives and were subject to rigid formality, even forced to celebrate their birthdays on the same day, the date of the school’s founding. They were educated by the nuns and encouraged to bond only with certain nuns or ‘floor mothers’.
If the students developed friendships among themselves, they would be separated. The students, however, figured out how to make their own Ouija board and played late at night. Perhaps, it was their exploration of the occult, or the curse levied upon them by the expelled practitioner of the dark arts who had brought the Ouija into their midst, that doomed them. Years later, the nuns seem to believe the outbreak was simply a test from God. An easier explanation for them to accept, perhaps, than the possibility that their practices were responsible for the development of a contagion of hysteria among a susceptible group of young, impoverished and isolated girls.
Jason Blum, Blumhouse co-founder and CEO, added, via his statement, “The Blumhouse team was enthralled by the original article and Daniel’s deep reporting around such a terrifying and heartbreaking story. Ever since I first watched Tigers Are Not Afraid, I have wanted to find a project to collaborate on with Issa and I knew this was a perfect fit. I can’t wait for audiences to see her take on this material.” Joining Blum as producer are Epic Magazine’s Joshua Davis and Arthur Spector. Epic’s co-founder, Joshua Bearman (who founded Epic with Davis), will executive produce. Epic has a solid history of moving its stories to Hollywood, with 40 of its true story articles having been optioned since Argo, which was adapted from an Epic article and won a Best Picture Oscar in 2013. This story was first reported at The Wrap.