Highland Film Group is shopping the horror-thriller, about a U.S. veteran who comes back from Afghanistan with something much worse than PTSD, to buyers at this year’s European Film Market. 

1980s action legend Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2Cliffhanger), will shift into horror mode for his next feature as a director, The Refuge, which has just gotten the green light. 

The Finnish filmmaker will direct the horror-thriller from a script by Ben Sztajnkrycer (Kaw). Principal photographer is set to start in April at Nu Boyana Film Studios in Bulgaria. 

The plot of the film sees a U.S. military veteran — Sergeant Rick Pedroni — return home changed and dangerous after a tour of duty in Afghanistan where he suffered an attack by a mysterious force. While officials dismiss his behavior as PTSD, and order trauma therapy, Rick’s wife Kate discovers her husband has been possessed by a malevolent spirit. Kate has to race against time to unmask the truth and save her husband from the evil force.

Highland Film Group is handling worldwide rights to the film and is shopping it to buyers at this week’s virtual European Film Market. This isn’t the first foray into scary movies for Harlin, who directed Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and, more recently, the Russian-set horror mystery Devil’s Pass (2013). 

“I love making horror films because of the visual opportunities and character studies they offer,” Harlan said in a statement. “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.”

Harlan will produce The Refuge alongside Yariv Lerner, Rob Van Norden, Gary Lucchesi, Michael McKay, and Lori McCreary. Production companies are Revelations Entertainment and Nu Boyana’s B2Y Production. Highland Film Group’s Delphine Perrier and Arianne Fraser are executive producers alongside Revelations Entertainment’s Kelly Mendelsohn.

In addition to The Refuge, Highland Film Group’s EFM slate includes Andrew Baird’s One Way starring Colson “Machine Gun Kelly” Baker, Travis Fimmel, and Kevin Bacon; Mark Neveldine’s Panama featuring Cole Hauser and Mel Gibson, and the Randall Emmett-directed Wash Me In The River with Robert De Niro, Jack Huston, and John Malkovich.

By Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter