It’s been more than 15 years since Kestie Morassi’s blood-strewn figure lay helpless on a deserted stretch of highway in one of the most enduring images from Wolf Creek.
She faces a more supernatural tormentor in her return to horror in David Willing’s directorial debut, The Surrogate, which has just wrapped filming in Melbourne.
Morassi plays Natalie Paxton, a single mother and nurse who is rushed to hospital after suffering massive internal bleeding.
When vicious paranormal attacks follow, Natalie must fight to stop her family from being destroyed.
The cast also includes Jane Badler and Louise Siverson, as well as child actors Taysha Furragia as Morassi’s daughter, Ellie Stewart and Ellie Tevalis.
Morassi is pleased to be back working in the genre that helped launch her career.
“I was looking to do another horror film but hadn’t found the right project until I read The Surrogate and was really impressed with how well it was written,” she said.
“I was really intrigued by the character of Natalie, a matter-of-fact woman who always has practical or rational answers and her journey towards believing she is being haunted.
“The scenes go from one intensity to another, to another and by the end sequences, it’s at fever pitch and out of control.
“I’m really excited to see how the audience responds to it.”
The Surrogate was written by Willing and Beth King, with the former also producing alongside Vikki Blinks and Alice Chaston. Konfir Kabo of Black Spade Productions is the executive producer.
Willing, who began writing the film with King in 2016, told IF it was made with an eye to the Asian market.
“We’re both just huge horror fans and we like a lot of Asian ghost horror films,” he said.
“We had other projects that hadn’t made it to the end of the development process, whereas horror really lends itself to that indie aesthetic and type of production.
“My favourite horror films are great pieces of drama that add scares, such as The Ring, The Others, and The Exorcist, all which influenced The Surrogate.”
The Surrogate is deep into post-production with contributions from Johnny Balazs (editor), Benni Knopp (sound design), and Mark Buys (composer).
Working on the production were also cinematographer Ben Luck, production designer Bianca Milani, and special effects make up artist Renee Schulz.
Willing said while there is no set release date for the film as yet, a series of event screenings are being planned following its completion in June.
“Given the film is privately financed, we were going to wait until the film was finished to do a series of event screenings, after which we would do distribution,” he said.
“The executive producer is Indonesian, so he is looking at a theatrical release over there.”