William Brent Bell

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William Brent Bell
WBB Set BOY 22.jpg
Bell on the set of The Boy in 2015
  • Film director
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
Years active1997–present

William Brent Bell is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is known for his work on horror films such as Stay Alive (2006), The Devil Inside (2012), Wer (2013), The Boy (2016), and Brahms: The Boy II (2020).

Life and career[edit]

Bell was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Along with writing partner Matthew Peterman, Bell wrote the screenplay Mercury, which was bought by Universal Studios with Gale Anne Hurd producing.[1]

Bell and Peterman went on to set up several film projects at studios. Some include Ignition, a kid's action-drama set up at Warner Bros. with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn producing and Illusion, a thriller set up at Walt Disney Pictures.[2] On the television side the duo have created several one-hour TV series including Eye to Eye with Warner Bros. Television and McG, Worthy and McGraw with ABC Television and Tim Minear as well as The Fix with Sarah Timberman and Sony Television. Bell and Peterman have also developed a number of videogames including Master Thief, with John Woo.[3]

Bell's first horror project was as co-writer and director of the horror thriller, Stay Alive, which was produced with McG and Peter Schlessel and financed by Spyglass Entertainment and Endgame Entertainment. Stay Alive was acquired and distributed domestically by Buena Vista Pictures and internationally by Universal Pictures. His second horror film was The Devil Inside, written with Matt Peterman. Produced by Peterman and Morris Paulson, the film stars Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, and Suzan Crowley, and was released theatrically on January 6. Despite negative reception, the film topped the US box office on its opening weekend, becoming a record-breaking commercial success and grossing over $100 million.[4]

In 2013, Bell went into production on his third horror film, Wer[5] which was released by Focus Features. Nav Qateel of Influx Magazine called Wer, "the best Werewolf film I've seen in years, or perhaps, ever."[6] Epic Horror Review wrote, "Wer not only redefines the werewolf movie but also saves it."[7] Wer would go on to be described by horrornews.net as, "One of the best films I've seen so far this year and a must to watch." [8] and "a film that you want to not only watch but add to your collection" by wickedchannel.com [9]

In 2014, Bell sold his pilot Posthuman to USA Network and UCP with Jason Blum producing. In 2015, Bell set up a series at Fox entitled Haunted. Bell will direct and write the show and shares executive-producing duties with Chris Morgan of the Fast & Furious franchise. This 20th Century Fox Television production is loosely based on the true story chronicled in the book The Demon of Brownsville Road: A Pittsburgh Family's Battle with Evil.[10]

On July 14, 2014, it was announced that Bell would direct the supernatural thriller The Boy, which Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi produced through Lakeshore Entertainment, along with Matt Berenson, Jim Wedaa, and Roy Lee, through Vertigo Entertainment. The script was written by Stacey Menear. On January 23, 2015, Lauren Cohan signed on to star in the film. On March 11, 2015, more cast was announced, which included Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Ben Robson, Rupert Evans, and James Russell.

Principal photography on The Boy officially begun in Victoria, British Columbia on March 10, 2015. STX Entertainment acquired the US rights to the film and released it in North America on January 22, 2016, the same date the films Dirty Grandpa and The 5th Wave also opened. The Boy grossed $36 million in the US and Canada and $32 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $68 million, against a budget of under $8 million. Chris Alexander of ShockTilYouDrop called it "one of the best contemporary wide release horror movies I've seen in years."[11] Joe Leydon criticized the story line as average in Variety and commented, "Despite game efforts by the cast, this tepid horror opus is never scary enough to overcome its silly premise."[12] In 2017, GQ Magazine called the film, "the most underrated horror movie of 2016."[13]

In 2019 Bell directed the sequel Brahms: The Boy II, an American supernatural horror film starring Katie Holmes, Ralph Ineson, Christopher Convery and Owain Yeoman. The stand-alone sequel to the 2016 film The Boy was written by Stacey Menear and released on February 21, 2020.

Later that year, Bell directed Separation, an American horror film, from a screenplay by Nick Amadeus and Josh Braun. It stars Rupert Friend, Violet McGraw, Mamie Gummer, Madeline Brewer and Brian Cox. In March 2021, Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film, and released it on April 30, 2021.[14]

Bell is currently post production on Orphan: First Kill, an upcoming American horror film from a screenplay by David Coggeshall. It is a prequel to the 2009 film Orphan. David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick serves as executive producer. Isabelle Fuhrman reprises her role as Esther, with Julia Stiles also starring.


Year Film Director Writer Producer Box Office Peak
1997 Sparkle and Charm Yes Yes Yes n/a
2006 Stay Alive Yes Yes No #3 (U.S.)
2012 The Devil Inside Yes Yes No #1 (U.S.)
2013 Wer Yes Yes No #3 (Italy)
2016 The Boy Yes No No #3 (U.S.)
2020 Brahms: The Boy II Yes No No #3 (U.S.)
2021 Separation Yes No Yes
TBA Orphan: First Kill Yes No No


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 25, 2007. Retrieved January 26, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ http://www.inbaseline.com/person.aspx?person_id=45236[dead link]
  3. ^ "William Brent Bell". Hollywood.com. Retrieved March 29, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Heath, Paul (July 28, 2015). "What are the most profitable films of the last 5 years?". The Hollywood News. Retrieved March 29, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "'Stay Alive' Duo Reteam for Doc-Style 'The Devil Inside'". BloodyDisgusting. October 19, 2009.
  6. ^ Qateel, Nav. "Influx Magazine Wer Review". influxmagazine.com. Archived from the original on October 2, 2016. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  7. ^ "Epic Horror Review Wer". epichorrorblog.blogspot.com.
  8. ^ "Film Review: Wer (2014)". horrornews.net.
  9. ^ "Horror Review: Wer". May 5, 2014.
  10. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "'Haunted' Horror Drama Produced By Chris Morgan In Works At Fox". Deadline. Retrieved March 29, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Alexander, Chris (January 23, 2016). "The Boy is an Atmospheric, Wildly Gothic Gem". shocktilyoudrop.com.
  12. ^ Leydon, Joe. "'The Boy' Review: A Tepid Horror Movie". Variety.com.
  13. ^ Phillip, Tom (May 31, 2017). "This Week, Watch The Most Underrated Horror Movie of 2016". gq.com.
  14. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (March 1, 2021). "Open Road & Briarcliff Land 'Separation', Set April Wide Release For William Brent Bell-Helmed Horror Film With Brian Cox & Rupert Friend". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]