Can fan-made film Voldemort: Origins of the Heir live up to the hype?

A new trailer for the fan-made film Voldemort: Origins of the Heir has been generating massive hype: it’s “unbelievably cool,” “jaw-dropping,” with the potential to be “even better than Fantastic Beasts.” Produced by indie film company Tryangle Films, the project may be a non-profit gift to fans, but it has the high-quality production and slick visual effects of a blockbuster.  Narrated by Heir of Gryffindor Grisha Mac Laggen, the trailer flashes through Riddle’s departure from Hogwarts and the subsequent death of Hepzibah Smith, wrongly blamed on her house elf. “I’m still smelling dark magic here,” Grisha claims. “I promise, Tom. I…will stop you.”

The filmmakers explain that their inspiration came from re-reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and wanting to know more about Voldemort’s backstory, which is largely glossed over in the Half-Blood Prince film: “What made Tom Riddle become Voldemort? What happened in those years, and what really went down at Hogwarts when he came back? There are some clues in the books which have not been transposed at all in the movies, but a lot goes unspoken.”

Potter fans have long been fascinated with earlier generations of Hogwarts students, from the teenaged Marauders to the young Tom Riddle. We’ve already glimpsed tantalizing snippets of Tom’s life in an orphanage, his charismatic presence at Hogwarts, and his slow accumulation of objects that would become Horcruxes. Now, we’ll get to watch Tom’s transformation into Voldemort, his growing stranglehold over the Wizarding World, and the failure of his professors, Ministry wizards, or anyone else to stop him—unless Grisha Mac Laggen can.

The filmmakers take a risk by introducing such a prominent new character into an already-beloved world. As “Heir of Gryffindor,” will Grisha turn out to be an overly perfect Mary Sue? Will the film provide any meaningful suspense, given that we already know what must happen? Clearly, Grisha is doomed from the start in her mission to stop Voldemort’s rise.

Or is she? As we saw in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, reckless use of Time Turners can yield enormous consequences and entirely rewrite history.  If the film-makers decide to play with time travel, there’s no telling how the story will end. Barring any time-changing manipulations, I’d put Grisha’s odds of surviving the film at around 100:1. Regardless, sometimes it doesn’t matter if you already know the ending; the fun lies in how you get there (see also: Rogue One).

After some negotiating with Warner Bros, Tryangle Films has the greenlight to finish and release Origins of the Heir. According to director Gianmaria Pezzato, “We had a private and confidential discussion with Warner Bros who contacted us during the period of the crowdfunding campaign. The only thing we can say is that they let us proceed with the film, in a non profit way, obviously.” Look for the film on YouTube in late 2017.

Header image via Tryangle Films