“Stranger Things’” Francesca Reale and “Succession’s” Dagmara Domińczyk are attached to star in horror drama “Surgat,” from Michael Borowiec and Sam Marine Borowiec, the New York-based writing-directing team behind “Man Underground,” which won best first feature at the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival.
Sean Lyness (“Abacus,” “Life, Animated”) is joining Josh Ruben (“Scare Me,” “Werewolves Within”) as a producer on the project.
The cast and producer additions add extra weight to a title which is shaping up as one of the highest-profile titles at this year’s Frontières Market, which takes place over July 21-24, running parallel to Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival.
“Surgat” will be presented to potential co-production partners, financiers and sales agents at the Frontières Official Selection Pitch Session held this Thursday, July 21.
Currently at the financing stage, “Surgat” turns on a young pregnant woman, Heather, whose life is thrown into chaos when a demonic spirit is released upon her home, possessing her family members one by one and turning them against her. “Heather is forced to learn what lengths she’ll go to in order to save her baby – and herself,” the film’s synopsis runs.
Rather than just possessing his victim, Surgat, the demon, possesses everyone else around his target, ultimately forcing them to become the monsters they fear most: Their true selves, Michael Borowiec and Sam Marine explain.
“Equal parts supernatural horror and psychological drama –‘Hereditary’ meets ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – ‘Surgat’ explores the complex relationships of a family struggling with grief, poverty, addiction and denial, and what happens when secrets that have long been buried start to surface,” they add.
Reale played missing lifeguard Heather in “Stranger Things” Season 3 and best friend to Natalie Dyer’s lead in 2019 SXSW hit “Yes, God, Yes.”
Domińczyk is best known for her main role in HBO Max’s Golden Globe winning “Succession” as Karolina Novotney, the head of PR for Waystar RoyCo. Born in Poland, she also had a lead role in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s 2021 Venice main competition contender “The Lost Daughter,” which went on to score three Academy Award nominations.
A portrait of a conspiracy theorist who claims to have encountered aliens, “Man Underground” was heralded by Fantasia’s artistic director Mitch Davis as “the latest gem to emerge from the loose U.S. wave of personal indie genre visions of recent years.” “A sometimes funny, sometimes frightening work of intense paranoid drama,” it “instantly announces its co-writing/directing team of Michael Borowiec and Sam Marine as major new talents to watch,” he added.
Participating in the Gotham’s TV Series Lab, Marine’s proof-of-concept pilot “I Adore Dolores” was named one of Vulture’s must-watch comedy shorts. Directed by Borowiec and Marine, “Maggie So Low,” an improvised comedy short, was selected as one of NoBudge’s best films of 2021. Marine’s screenplay for the drama feature “Swing Low” was a finalist in the 2022 Emerging Screenwriters Genre Competition.
Domińczyk is represented by Allison Levy and Gary Gersh at Innovative Artists; Reale’s agents are Mark Herzberg and Matt Viora at Gersh.