Ukrainian Powerhouse Film.UA Unveils Plans for Bone-Chilling Slate of Horror Films Set in Same Cinematic Universe (EXCLUSIVE)

Ukrainian production powerhouse Film

Published Time: 09.05.2024 - 10:31:31 Modified Time: 09.05.2024 - 10:31:31

Ukrainian production powerhouse Film.UA is developing a bone-chilling slate of horror films all set within the same cinematic universe, the company revealed exclusively to Variety on the eve of this year’s Cannes Marché du Film.

Steeped in local folklore and delving into the rituals, sorcery and mysticism that are woven into the fabric of Ukrainian culture and mythology, the films will transport viewers into a realm where ancient powers stir and darkness reigns, unspooling stories that are rooted in historical and cultural facts and set against the backdrop of current events.

“We’re not just producing movies; we’re crafting an entire universe and forming an industry of the specific genre in Ukraine,” says Iryna Kostyuk, the producer behind two upcoming features as well as last year’s animated hit “Mavka. The Forest Song.” “Our goal is to create a diverse and immersive storytelling experience that resonates with audiences on a global scale.”

The first film in the series, “The Witch. Revenge,” tells the story of an ancient witch from the Ukrainian town of Konotop whose dormant powers are awakened with her lover’s cruel murder at the hands of Russian soldiers. Fueled by grief and a thirst for revenge, she sets out on a chilling and methodical pursuit of her enemies, who each fall victim to her wrath.

The film’s producers say it delivers a powerful message that despite the yearning for retribution, one must resist the temptation to descend into darkness and strive instead to remain on the side of light.

Slated for domestic release this August with plans for a global rollout in 2025, “The Witch. Revenge” is the first in a series of terrifying tales on the Film.UA horror slate. Next up is “The Dam,” a zombie survival thriller where the sins of the past manifest in ghastly forms. It follows a cast of characters who navigate the remnants of a bygone era, in the meantime confronting the undead echoes of Soviet experimentation of the Cold War period.

The movie’s heroine is Mara, a stern and resolute servicewoman who possesses supernatural powers inherited from her grandmother. She embarks on a harrowing quest to uncover the truth behind her -

brother’s disappearance, delving into the depths of a secret Soviet bunker and confronting the horrors that lie within.

Both films are part of the Film.UA Group’s broader vision to create a cohesive horror universe, where characters and narratives will form interconnected stories. Two other films are currently in development, with the company planning to begin principal photography on “The Dam” later this year.

The genre slate will draw inspiration from Ukraine’s rich cultural heritage while also reflecting the modern reality of a nation at war. “We’re trying to combine our mission to tell the world what’s going on here, and on the other hand, to make it interesting and appealing to the widest audience,” says CEO Victoria Yarmoshcuk.

She adds that the move into genre-based IP is inspired by the company’s desire to serve the needs of the local market. “Demand for content not related to the war is rising in Ukraine. People are really tired of what’s happening and they want to escape,” says Yarmoshcuk. “That’s why we are moving into new niches, trying to work in new genres.”

The Film.UA topper also points to the success of “Mavka. The Forest Song,” which after selling across the globe is being spun off into an animated series, as an example of how the company is reshaping its business model to meet the demands of the global market. “We are trying to build strong IP that we can monetize in many ways,” she says.

“We do consider it a unique high concept — horror movies based on characters with mythological backgrounds set against the backdrop of current events,” adds Kostyuk. “We are crafting them against all odds of the reality we have to live and work in, through all the traumas that the specific topics that we depict might cause. This makes us only stronger on the creative front. More is yet to come.”

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