Neon is reteaming with a pair of old friends in their latest acquisition. The independent film distributor has picked up the North American and UK distribution rights to Handling the Undead, a new film from director Thea Hvistendahl featuring The Worst Person In The World stars Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie. The film also stars Bjørn Sundquist (Witch Hunters) and Bente Børsum (Exit) alongside Academy Award nominee Bahars Pars (A Man Called Ove).
Handling the Undead is based on a book by acclaimed horror novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist, another Neon favorite who penned the novel and screenplay behind the Neon-distributed Border and who also wrote the acclaimed Let the Right One In which has received a two film adaptations and will soon see a series adaptation on Showtime. Handling the Undead takes place on one abnormally hot day in Oslo. As many citizens are escaping the heat in their homes, a strange electrical field surrounds the town, causing a collective migraine and causing electronics around the city to malfunction. In the midst of the chaos, the deceased return to life, leaving their unwitting family members to deal with the emotions of grief that come with seeing their loved ones again, often in horrific states.
Lindqvist‘s story is a more character-driven zombie tale bringing three families together in a battle against their loss and what they can’t control. Rather than make the dead explicitly threatening, it shows how the world reacts to the return of their lost family members and the work done by authorities to keep everything in control. Along with the news of Neon acquiring the adaptation came an image from the film teasing one of the dead that has returned home only to lie down on the couch.
Hvistendahl, who will make her feature debut with the film, co-wrote the screenplay with Lindqvist. She previously helmed the documentary The Monkey and the Mouth, though most of her work has been in the short film realm. Her short Virgins4Lyfe was previously up for the Grand Jury Award at SXSW.
Kristin Emblem and Guri Neby produce the film under their Einar Film banner with Zentropa Sweden and Filmiki co-producing with support from The Norwegian Film Institute, The Swedish Film Institute, Film i Väst, Nordisk Film & TV Fond and Oslo Film Fond.
Neon is trusting in the star power of Reinsve, Lie, and company to bring in another success for the distributor after the decorated run of The Worst Person In The World. That film earned a pair of Oscar nods, a BAFTA nomination, and widespread acclaim with the two stars being at the center of much of the praise. For Reinsve, the role garnered her a Best Actress win at Cannes while both she, Lie, and acclaimed director Joachim Trier won big at Norway’s Amanda Awards.
Filming is currently underway on Handling the Dead.