EXCLUSIVE: Abbey Lee (The Neon DemonLovecraft Country) and Christopher Abbott (Black Bear, Catch-22) are attached to lead Fear is the Rider, a chase thriller from BAFTA-nominated director John Michael McDonagh (The GuardCalvary, The Forgiven) that The Exchange is introducing to international buyers at the 2022 virtual EFM.

Fear is the Rider is based on Kenneth Cook’s (Wake in Fright) acclaimed novel of the same name. It tells the story of John Shaw (Abbott), a photojournalist who arrives in Australia trying to recover from his experiences reporting on the Vietnam War. After meeting a young woman (Lee) in a small-town bar, he decides to detour into the Outback to photograph cave paintings.

Out there, under the baking sun, people can die within hours. But the elements are not the most hazardous thing in the bush, and Shaw and his mysterious companion soon find themselves caught up in an unrelenting fight for survival.

McDonagh handled the screenplay adaptation for the film billed as Duel meets Picnic at Hanging Rock, and will produce alongside Elizabeth Eves (CalvaryThe Forgiven) under their House of Un-American Activities banner. CAA Media Finance is handling North American rights.

“We are truly thrilled to be working on John Michael McDonagh’s latest project,” said The Exchange CEO Brian O’Shea. “His incredible vision as a filmmaker coupled with the talent of Christopher Abbot and Abbey Lee will make this a standout genre project for our international buyers.”

The Exchange is a leading international sales, finance and production company founded by veteran sales exec O’Shea that is committed to creating strong relationships between filmmakers, film financiers and distributors through the exchange of product, information and commerce. Its EFM ’22 lineup also includes John Cena and Brian Cox’s The Independent, Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson’s Meet Cute, Justine Bateman’s 2021 TIFF title Violet, Aubrey Joseph, Tyrese Gibson and Vivica A. Fox’s Bosco and Frank Grillo’s Lights Out.

Lee is represented by Management 360, United Management, Hamilton Hodell, CAA and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller; Abbott by Management 360, WME and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.

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