Being a fan of Guillermo del Toro means getting excited about projects that don't always come together. It's a bummer in its own way, but it's a testament to the fact that GdT is the hustler of genre filmmaking, always having something going on, always trying to get another cool idea off the ground. I love that about him, that he's got so many irons in the fire and that he's ready to strike with whichever one heats up first.
The latest iron: Nutshell Studies, which the Hollywood Reporter is saying is a Hitchcockian drama about a 1950s small-town housewife who becomes obsessed with solving brutal crimes.
But I think it's more than that, maybe. The title references the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, which were a series of incredibly detailed dollhouse recreations of crime scenes made by Frances Glessner Lee. Sure, she could be called a housewife, but she was really a millionaire heiress who went on to found Harvard's school of legal medicine, the first forensic pathology program in the United States.
Glessner's models were unbelievably detailed - tiny pencils would write, the blinds would work, and she would wear fabrics she intended to use in the dioramas to give them a lived-in look. Glessner would bring the models, based on real crime scenes, to police conventions and use them to teach cops how to look for evidence and clues. The Baltimore PD still uses them for training.
So is Nutshell Studies, which GdT is producing alongside Southland writer Sara Gran, about Glessner or just inspired by her? Could it be a fictionalized thing where a 50s housewife solves crimes, or is it specifically about Glessner (who was doing the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death in the 40s as well)? Whatever the case, there is no way a GdT crime show called Nutshell Diaries does not contain dollhouse murder scenes, so here are some shots of the original dioramas:
And here's Glessner working on a diorama!