A young woman struggles in the water to free her bloodied former lover from the seat of a submerged small plane, perched precariously on the ledge of an underwater cliff descending into the abyss of the Indian Ocean.
It’s a scene — shot in the tank at Pinewood, with visual effects to be added by Double Negative — from forthcoming action-thriller “Horizon Line,” the first fully English-language movie to be produced by Sweden’s SF Studios.
The film, produced with STX, is the start of SF Studios’ ambitious plunge into bigger-budget English-language films targeted at the global market, a move spearheaded by producer Fredrik Wikström Nicastro, SF Studios’ senior VP, international production.
The idea is to work on these projects with Scandinavian IP or filmmakers — in this case Mikael Marcimain, a Swedish director who piqued the interest of Hollywood after the critical applause that greeted his political thriller “Call Girl.”
“Horizon Line,” budgeted at around $20 million, is penned by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken (“10 Cloverfield Lane”).
As well as Pinewood, the film shot on location in Mauritius and a studio in Dublin.
The pic stars Allison Williams, who made her name with Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” and received acclaim as the bad girlfriend in “Get Out,” and Alexander Dreymon, who has starred in multiple seasons of Viking drama “The Last Kingdom.”
In the film, Sara and Jackson, the estranged couple, are the only passengers on a plane as they fly to a tropical island for a wedding. Then the pilot has a heart attack. What follows is “‘Speed’ in the air — a non-stop thrill ride,” Wikström Nicastro says. “We are hoping this film will feed on people’s fear of flying.”
Cinemagoers will be kept on “the edge of their seats,” he hopes. “[Sara and Jackson] encounter one problem after another. We never leave them alone.”
With this movie, Williams, Dreymon and Marcimain are making their first foray into the action genre, which Wikström Nicastro sees as an advantage. Referring to Williams, he says they were “looking for an actress who felt fresh,” citing Blake Lively in “The Shallows” as an example of what he had in mind.
Dreymon says: “I am a huge fan of [Williams’] capacity to transform, and I think she has an incredible intensity.”
Dreymon compliments director Marcimain on his “naturalistic” approach. “His films are very human and down to earth … there is an almost documentary feel to them.” He adds that applying this filmmaking style to “a white-knuckle adventure is going to give it a depth that is unusual.”
It was more the emotional punch than the action per se that drew Williams to the project. “I found myself invested in the two characters at its center, and in finding out what was to become of them individually and potentially together,” she says. It was the normality of those characters that attracted her. “I am so accustomed to seeing [survival thrillers] with characters who have a skillset that would allow them to be successful in these unusual situations, and I was intrigued by the idea of an action movie where they have no such skillsets — they are just people like we would know in an extraordinary situation.”
Most of the film’s action takes place within the confines of the plane’s cockpit, in which the bitterness caused by couple’s breakup pumps up the pressure, while their survival depends on their ability to work in tandem. The dynamic is “a very helpful vehicle for the tension to build up as these two people strain against the very weak strands of their relationship,” Williams says.