ROME — U.S. actor/director Robert Englund, best known as Freddie Kruger in the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, will direct “The Vij,” a dark gothic fantasy in which Christopher Lee is attached to star.

Based on an eponymous novel by Russian writer Nikolaj Gogol, “The Vij” revolves around an evil genie who conditions the actions of a young priest, leading him to commit murder and fall in love with an old witch who is actually not what she seems.

Italo producer Loris Curci is producing “The Vij” for Rome-based horror shingle ReDark in association with Canada’s Remstar and Spain’s Canonigo Films. Shooting is scheduled to start in April in the Lazio region with assistance and incentives from the Rome/Lazio Film Commission. The uninhabited medieval village of Civita di Bagnoregio will be a prime location for “The Vij.”

Besides Christopher Lee, who will play a God-like character called The Father, “The Vij” will star Englund and Rome-based Russian actress Olga Shuvalova as Alina, the female lead. Casting for other roles, including the wayward priest called Khoma, is still underway.

Englund previously directed the features “976 Evil,” released by New Line, and “Killer Pad.”