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‘Cliffhanger’ Director Renny Harlin’s New Horror Project ‘The Refuge’ Unveiled at EFM

By Lise Pedersen
March 2, 2021

The new action-horror film set to be shot by acclaimed blockbuster director Renny Harlin (“Die Hard 2,” “Cliffhanger”) is being introduced online at Berlin’s virtual European Film Market. Casting is currently underway with shooting due to start in Bulgaria in April.

Penned by action sci-fi writer Ben Sztajnkrycer, “The Refuge” tells the story of Sergeant Rick Pedroni who returns home from Afghanistan a changed and dangerous man after suffering an attack by a mysterious force during combat. Officials claim he suffered a heavy brain injury, but his wife Kate knows it is more than PTSD. As Rick undergoes therapy, Kate discovers he has been possessed by a malevolent spirit. She has to race against time to unmask the truth and save her husband from the evil force.

Worldwide rights are handled by Highland Film Group (“Boss Level,” starring Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson, “Terminal” with Margot Robbie), whose more recent projects include “Wash Me In the Water,” starring Robert de Niro, Jack Huston and John Malkovich, and “Euphoria” with Storm Reid (“12 Years a Slave,” “When They See Us”), Kevin Bacon and rapper Colson Baker.

Produced by Harlin alongside powerhouse executives Yariv Lerner (“Hellboy,” “Rambo: Last Blood”), Rob Van Norden (“Olympus Has Fallen,” “Rambo: Last Blood”), Gary Lucchesi (the “Underworld” franchise, “The Lincoln Lawyer”), Michael McKay (“Brahms: The Boy II”) and Emmy-nominated Lori McCreary (“Invictus,” CBS’ “Madam Secretary”), “The Refuge” is a Revelations Entertainment and B2Y production.

“Renny is one of the most iconic directors of our time. His terrific talent and unique vision directing horror and action films have made him an audience and critics favorite. ‘The Refuge’ is the perfect film for him to, once again, reveal his masterful skills of the genre. We are honored to be working alongside him and the distinguished group of excellent producers that have brought us some of the most successful films of recent years,” said Highland Film Group CEO Arianne Fraser, who is executive producing the film alongside COO Delphine Perrier and Revelations Entertainment’s Kelly Mendelsohn.

A successful filmmaker in his native Finland, Harlin shot to fame in Hollywood in the late 1980s with “Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master” (1988), the highest-grossing film in the series. Other hits followed such as “Die Hard 2” (1990), starring Bruce Willis, “Cliffhanger” (1993) with Sylvester Stallone, and Warner Bros’ “Deep Blue Sea” (1999). His recent titles include Liongate’s “The Legend of Hercules” (2014) and “The Misfits,” starring Pierce Brosnan (yet to be released).

“The Refuge” will be a movie “where no place is safe and no character will escape the darkness that only true terror can create,” pledged Harlin, who said: “I love making horror films because of the visual opportunities and character studies they offer. ‘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. I will take the audience on a visually stunning journey of unprecedented terror, and emotions that cut deep into our souls.”

Sztajnkrycer is managed by Nicholas Bogner of Affirmative Entertainment and Rob Szymanski of Eclipse Law.