If You Thought The Handmaid’s Tale Was Elisabeth Moss’s Scariest Role, Wait Until You See Her Next Movie
Get ready to add another Elisabeth Moss movie to your personal queue. The trailer for Shirley just dropped and it’s filled with spooky twists and turns.
Shirley is a highly fictionalised film about an actual person, the writer and possible witch Shirley Jackson, who wrote The Haunting of Hill House and the vicious short story “The Lottery.” The movie is set in a real period in the author’s life, but it’s built around totally fictitious relationships and characters.
The trailer opens with Shirley’s husband, Stuart Edgar Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg), toasting her by saying, “To our suffering, my dear,” and cuts to a barely recognisable Moss replying, “There’s not enough scotch in the world for that.”
That certainly sets the tone. Next we see a young couple, Rose and Fred (played by Odessa Young and Logan Lerman), who have been invited by Shirley’s philandering husband (or is he?) to stay for a few days at their palatial, and spooky, home. They’re told that “Shirley has these bouts” and we see Moss as Shirley lying in bed, smoking, tossing about, and maybe crying.
The frenetic pace of the trailer and the moody lighting make it feel like you’re bouncing back and forth between reality and hallucinations. Rose sneaks into Shirley’s writing space, and Shirley gets upset with her for reading her work in progress. Rose tells her, “I read your story. It made me feel thrillingly horrible.”
At one point, Shirley is pushing eggs off the edge of a table, one by one, letting them crack on the floor of the dining room. Her husband approaches slowly, brandishing a knife and says, “I feel like we’re in the Scottish play” as he holds the knife to her throat. That’s some heavy Macbeth reference. Many actors refer to the Bard’s greatest play as “the Scottish play,” as uttering the name out loud in a theatre is believed to be bad luck, due to rumours that a coven of witches cursed the play after Shakespeare used real incantations. It could mean the marriage is cursed, it could mean Shirley’s latest novel is cursed, or maybe the film itself is cursed. Who knows?
We end with Shirley’s husband asking her what’s going to happen to “your dear heroine?” She says, “What happens to all lost girls...they go mad!”
It’s not clear if Shirley is talking about a character in a new book, the young wife, or...herself.