There’s been something of a folk horror renaissance in recent years, with “The Witch” and “Midsommar” obviously leading the way (followed by stranger yet interesting oddities like “Apostle” and “Lamb”). Brian Taylor hopes to ride that renewed wave of interest in the sub-genre with “Hellboy: The Crooked Man,” describing it as “more lean and mean, creepy folk horror” in his Collider interview. He’s certainly got the perfect source material in Mike Mignola’s “The Crooked Man,” a three-part 2008 comic book mini-series that follows Big Red on a creep-tastic journey to 1950s Appalachia, pitting him against vicious witch covens and the eponymous character (a duplicitous arms dealer who was killed for his treachery and sent to Hell, only to escape after making a pact with the Devil).
Whereas Guillermo del Toro’s “Hellboy” films cast Ron Perlman as a relatively mature version of Hellboy with a sensitive side that makes him prone to drunkenly crooning Barry Manilow tunes, David Harbour’s iteration in Neil Marshall’s reboot is still in what you might call the moody, rebellious teenager stage of his emotional development as a half-demon. By comparison, Taylor referred to the younger Hellboy in “The Crooked Man” as a bit of a lonely soul who’s “wandering the dark corners of the world” as a “paranormal investigator [and] night stalker” when the film picks up. He elaborated:
“‘The Crooked Man’ in particular is just such an iconic book — written by Mike, drawn by Richard Corben, another legend. Set in the late ’50s. For me it’s my favorite version of the character. So the appeal of this one to me, is to go back to that and do a real reset, and really give us that version of Hellboy, which I just don’t think we’ve seen yet.”