“I love challenging myself and this is the most challenging thing I have done,” film, and now, TV star Mena Suvari says about her new show South of Hell. Set in South Carolina, the series follows Maria Abascal (Suvari), a demon hunter for hire. Her work, however, means she has her own inner demon in the shape of Abigail, who feeds on the energy of the monsters she pursues.
Horror gurus Eli Roth (Hostel) and Jason Blum (Sinister) are exec producing the new Deep South thriller series, which has been penned by James Manos (The Shield).
The drama is for WE tv, the US cable channel that is moving into drama.
Roth directed the first of the eight one-hour episodes and the series will debut on WE tv later this year. US producer and distributor Sonar is selling South of Hell internationally and will be marketing the show in Cannes.
“It is the first pairing of horror masters Eli Roth and Jason Blum and it is a nice blend of genres, with a lot of thriller elements and a lot in there for horror fans,” says Jenna Glazier, Sonar’s senior VP, television.
AMC Networks channel WE tv is has a female skew, and with its strong female lead, South of Hell will appeal to women viewers. However, there is also a strong male character of note in David (Zachary Booth), thedemon-hunting brother of Maria. CSI actor Bill Irwin plays the demon slayers’ father.
The series embodies the new form of high-end serialised TV drama, Glazier says. “It has a lot of film pedigree behind it with Mena Suvari, Eli Roth and Jason Blum. It was shot on location in Charleston, and that southern element figures heavily.”
Amid talk of the golden age of TV drama, the movie star says she does not think in terms of ‘TV’ or ‘film’. “I’ve never had that perspective, I don’t think ‘this is film’ or ‘this is TV’. It doesn’t matter what medium it is, I’m an actor.”
Suvari is a self-confessed horror fan and The Walking Dead is one of her favourite current TV shows she tellsTBI.
Sonar’s CEO, Gene Stein, says South of Hell is more than a straight-up horror offering. “It’s not a traditional horror show, it’s deeper than that,” he says. “It really uses Charleston as a character in the piece, which adds atmosphere and a sense of unease.”
The Sonar boss adds that South of Hell could build from a limited, to a returning series. “In a the world of limited series we can tell a story in eight episodes, but can also go further. We’d love to do multiple seasons.”
The show: South of Hell
The producers: Sonar Entertainment, Blumhouse Television
The distributor: Sonar Entertainment
The broadcaster: WE tv (US)
The concept: Eight-part horror thriller starring Mena Suvari as a demon hunter for hire