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Signature Entertainment has acquired U.K. and Ireland rights to supernatural horror “The Harbinger” from MPI Media Group.

The film is produced by Jay Dunn (“The Witch in the Window”), Richard W. King (“We Go On”) and Andy Mitton (“YellowBrickRoad”), with Mitton also directing and writing. It stars Gabby Beans (“House of Cards”), Emily Davis (“The Plagiarists”) and Raymond Anthony Thomas (“Shutter Island”).

The New York-set film sees Monique (Beans) reluctantly break quarantine during the pandemic to care for her friend Mavis (Davis) who’s plagued by horrific nightmares. Monique soon learns that the dreams are contagious, and originate from a demonic, reality-warping force – The Harbinger. Monique and Mavis must discover a way to defeat the malevolent entity before it consumes their souls entirely.

The film was selected at Canada’s Fantasia International Film Festival, the U.K.’s FrightFest and the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival. It won Best Scare at the U.K.’s Grimmfest International Festival of Fantastic Film.

“Unlike many films incorporating COVID-enforced conditions, this one transcends obvious gimmickry to make the pandemic a key, organic plot element, with the central ghoul said to have flourished in such conditions dating back to the days of medieval plagues,” said Variety critic Dennis Harvey in his review of the film.

The deal was negotiated between Signature’s acquisitions and development executive Katie Wilkinson and MPI Media Group’s VP of sales and acquisitions Nicola Goelzhaeuser. A digital HD release has been set for Jan. 23, 2023. XYZ Films released the film in the U.S. on Dec. 1.

Wilkinson said: “When the FrightFest team introduced us to ‘The Harbinger,’ we were really impressed, so we were very happy to then agree a deal with the lovely MPI team. A lot of films have been made during the pandemic, but this one truly stands out from the crowd with its atmospheric chills and building dread. Definitely one to watch out for in January.”

Goelzhaeuser added: “We are thrilled to be working with the amazing team at Signature on this gripping supernatural thriller. The living nightmare depicted in ‘The Harbinger’ pulls you in and never lets you go until its satisfying finale.”