Screenwest and Screen Australia are pleased to announce Daisy Ridley (Star Wars sequel trilogy) is set to star in Zak Hilditch’s new survival-thriller film, We Bury the Dead, to be filmed in Western Australia.
We Bury the Dead is a terrifying yet moving story about grief, loss and the undead, written and to be directed by Hilditch (These Final Hours, 1922). The film will be produced by Kelvin Munro and Grant Sputore of WA production company The Penguin Empire (I Am Mother, The Furnace), alongside Hilditch’s frequent collaborator Ross Dinerstein (1922, Rattlesnake) of Campfire Studios in the US. Also producing are Gramercy Park’s Joshua Harris and Mark Fasano with executive producers Nathan Klingher and Ford Corbett.
The film follows Ava (Daisy Ridley), a desperate woman whose husband is missing in the aftermath of a catastrophic military experiment. Hoping to find him alive, Ava joins a “body retrieval unit”, but her search takes a chilling turn when the corpses she’s burying start showing signs of life.
The project has attracted production funding from Screen Australia, Screenwest, Lotterywest, the WA Regional Screen Fund and Gramercy Park Media. NEON and UTA Independent Film Group are launching international and U.S. sales, respectively, at AFM in Santa Monica this week. Umbrella Entertainment will distribute the film theatrically in Australia.
Written and directed in his signature style, We Bury the Dead will be Hilditch’s fourth feature film following two Netflix Original Films Rattlesnake and Stephen King adaptation 1922, and his debut feature These Final Hours which was filmed in Perth and made its world premiere at the 2014 Cannes Director’s Fortnight.
Screen Australia Head of Content Grainne Brunsdon said, “We are delighted to support this compelling project featuring the talents of Daisy Ridley with director Zak Hilditch, which will provide a dark and powerful cinematic journey. We Bury the Dead promises a fresh take on the zombie/horror genre and plenty of gut-wrenching thrills for audiences, whilst delving deep into the world of loss, grief and the undead.”
“After supporting Zak’s debut feature, These Final Hours, which launched his career a decade ago, Screenwest is thrilled to be backing his latest film.” said Screenwest CEO Rikki Lea Bestall. “Zak is one of Western Australia’s leading storytellers, and it’s great to have him and The Penguin Empire team home in WA to bring We Bury the Dead to life.”
Of the film’s upcoming production in his home state, Zak commented, “In many ways it’s fitting that I’ll be making We Bury the Dead here in Western Australia. This film is very much the spiritual successor to These Final Hours, the last film I made in WA and the one that launched my career. To be coming home with a film and to do so with someone of Daisy Ridley’s talents in the lead is a dream come true.”
“We’re thrilled to be joining forces with Zak on this project,” said producers Grant Sputore and Kelvin Munro. “Zak is uniquely gifted when it comes to making movies that are just as moving as they are terrifying. Bringing one of his projects to our home state of Western Australia is especially exciting.”
Ridley, known for her leading role in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, is returning to the franchise for a new film set after the events of The Rise of Skywalker. In addition to We Bury the Dead, Ridley’s other upcoming films include The Marsh King’s Daughter, starring opposite Ben Mendelsohn for director Neil Burger; Young Woman and the Sea from director Joachim Rønning; and Sometimes I Think About Dying, in which Ridley both starred and produced. Sometimes I Think About Dying premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and will be released in January 2024.
Ridley is repped by CAA and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern. Hilditch is repped by Sugar 23 and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. The Penguin Empire is repped by Navigation Media Group. Campfire Studios is repped by UTA.
We Bury the Dead is set to head into production in the Great Southern region in Western Australia in February 2024.
Production credit: We Bury the Dead is a Penguin Empire production in partnership with Campfire Studios. Major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Screenwest, Lotterywest and the WA Regional Screen Fund. Local distribution by Umbrella Entertainment. International sales by NEON.