Olga Kurylenko Signs On To Meet Mara

Supernatural horror from Insidious producer

With three films in post-production and two more (including Russell Crowe's The Water Diviner) on the way, these are busy times for Olga Kurylenko. She's managed to squeeze in one more project, however, in the form of Mara, a supernatural horror thriller from debut director Clive Tonge. Jonathan Frank (The Tournament) wrote the screenplay.

Mara's high concept is centred on sleep paralysis and Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome. Kurylenko plays criminal psychologist Kate Fuller, assigned to look into an apparent murder in which the victim seems to have been killed in his sleep by his wife. The only witness is eight-year-old Sophie. But Fuller's investigations lead to the legend of an ancient folk demon, and gaining its attention leads Fuller to experience similar ordeals to previous victims as she struggles to escape the curse.

So what's Mara? We're guessing the demon, which takes various forms in various cultures. The Hmong people of Laos call it "dab tsuam" and envisage it as a jealous woman, while in the Philippines it's a mythological "batibat" (a hag-like thing that sits on your chest) called Bangungot. Thanks, Wikipedia.

It's obviously eary days, since Mara hasn't even started production yet, but all the signs are that the film is expected to be the first of a series. It's a joint venture between Room 101, The Solution Entertainment Group and Mann Made Films, with Solution's Myles Nestel hyping "an Insidious-type franchise". Room 101's Stephen Schneider (Insidious, Paranormal Activity) similarly says that, "horror fans will embrace Clive Tonge as widely as they did James Wan and, with Olga starring, we're onto another hit franchise."

So we'll see, won't we? The project is currently up for grabs at the American Film Market, with shooting due to take place next May.