Many years ago, PRIMER director Shane Carruth wrote a screenplay for his next project. Titled A TOPIARY, the script was a sizable, dense piece of work - just as immediately unknowable and strange as anything Carruth ever put onscreen. The script would've been pricey to shoot, what with the elaborate VFX that would've been required to bring it to life, and over time it became clear that no studio was willing to pony up the money to make it happen. Carruth moved on to UPSTREAM COLOR, the A TOPIARY screenplay continued sitting on a shelf, and ... well, Carruth hasn't directed a film since. It's one of the more frustrating stories of stifled creativity to come out of Hollywood in the past decade.
Lately, Carruth's found himself in the news again, making the interview rounds on behalf of Nicholas Ashe Bateman's THE WANTING MARE, which he executive produced (you can read our review of what wonderful film here). While speaking to IndieWire, Carruth suggested he's got maybe one project left in him before retiring from filmmaking completely, and the conversations surrounding that interview have led many Carruth fans to start talking about A TOPIARY again. Couldn't one of the streaming services help make this happen? Was there really no one who could get that project made? This wasn't a new conversation, to be sure, but in an age where HBO Max is shelling out tens of millions of dollars to make the Snyder Cut of JUSTICE LEAGUE happen, it also felt like a conversation worth revisiting.
And, y'know, maybe Carruth thinks so, too. Last night, via the UPSTREAM COLOR Twitter handle, Carruth posted a link to a mock-up trailer he'd created for A TOPIARY. Uploaded nine years ago and featuring footage from older films (JURASSIC PARK, THE IRON GIANT, and DAYS OF HEAVEN among them) alongside some of the footage Carruth himself made to illustrate what A TOPIARY's bizarre creatures would look like. It's all set to a piece of Hans Zimmer's INCEPTION score, and it's ... well, just take a look. It's pretty damn great.
There's no telling how long this trailer will be online; Carruth himself seems to believe it could get yanked down at any minute. But for now, and while we can, this is the best look we've ever been given into what Shane Carruth's A TOPIARY might have looked and felt like. We're not sure if Carruth's hoping to drum up enough fan interest to draw the attention of one of the streaming world's deep-pocketed platforms or if he's just like, "Eh, fuck it - never happening, so why not show this off?", but we're thrilled to get a look at what he had in mind.
Shane Carruth's A TOPIARY has yet to be made and has no release date. But maybe that'll change.