Finnish director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2 (1990), Cliffhanger (1993)) finds his next directorial feature in horror flick The Refuge. With filming yet to begin and no cast named, The Refuge will participate in the European Film Market (EFM), currently underway. Highland Film Group, holding universal rights, will shop the film to potential buyers at the world-famous market according to Variety. EFM is usually held in Berlin, but due to Covid-19 and social distancing restrictions, it will function virtually from March 1-5, 2021.
The Refuge, written by Ben Sztajnkrycer (Kaw (2007)) tells the story of Sergeant Rick Pedroni, a U.S. military veteran who returns home after suffering a mysterious attack during a tour in Afghanistan. Initially diagnosed with PTSD and a brain injury, Pedroni is noticeably different in the eyes of his wife Kate, and his diagnoses don’t seem to explain his bizarre behavior. To Kate’s horror, she discovers the truth, that a demonic entity has taken possession of her husband’s body. She must find a way to convince others of the invisible presence and save her husband before it’s too late.
On the film’s malevolent theme, Harlin says, “The Refuge is a terrifying journey into the deepest corners of the human spirit. It’s not just a regular horror film about a haunted house or a merciless killer. It’s an examination of what can happen when an evil, demonic spirit possesses an innocent mind.” Harlin is no stranger to horror, previously directing Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and Devil’s Pass (2013). The genre is one he has taken a particular interest in conveying, as he says, “I love making horror films because of the visual opportunities and character studies they offer.”
Harlin will act as one of the film’s producers alongside Yariv Lerner, Rob Van Norden, Gary Lucchesi, Michael McKay, and Lori McCreary. Executive producing for Highland Film Group is Delphine Perrier and Arianne Fraser, and Kelly Mendelsohn of Revelations Entertainment. Handling production will be Highland and Nu Boyana Film Studios’ B2Y Production, with B2Y to begin filming in Bulgaria, April 2021.
The Refuge is one from a cluster of films Highland Film Group intends to shop around at EFM. Its other entries include: One Way, directed by Andrew Baird and starring Colson “Machine Gun Kelly” Baker, Travis Fimmel, and Kevin Bacon, Randall Emmett’s Wash Me in the River, starring Robert De Niro, Jack Huston, and John Malkovich, and Panama, directed by Mark Neveldine and featuring Cole Hauser and Mel Gibson.