Ultimately, a horror movie starring Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split), George MacKay (Pride), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things 1 and 2) and Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness) has the absolute duty to be fantastic.
Although Marrowbone (which is a Spanish produced horror drama originally titled El Secreto De Marrowbone) has all the ingredients to be amazing, in the end it doesn’t quite deliver.
First, the plot: simply put, four siblings (MacKay, Heaton, Goth and Matthew Stagg, who plays young Sam) move from England to the US with their mom to run away from they’re dad, a psycho murderer who did terrible things to them. When the mother dies, the youngsters must keep the secret in order to maintain the property, although they’re plagued by a malicious presence that seems to haunt their attic.
Like many other non-American horror films, Marrowbone runs for almost 2 hours and keeps its best parts for last: with a twist a la The Others (2001) that might make you feel rewarded by your viewing experience.
Said twist is indeed very clever: hints to it are thrown into the story every now and then, disguised by other minor plot turns and, ultimately, they lead to a big reveal that’s both highly satisfying and extremely unsettling.
However, leading up to the last twenty minutes, Marrowbone is a very uneventful movie, which would be more acceptable with a shorter runtime.
Personally, I always try not to call a movie boring, because that’s such an asinine and easy criticism: many flicks that people despise as ‘boring’ are, indeed, slow-burners that take their time to develop characters and establish the mood, as opposed to startling the viewers with childish and tiresome jump-scares (which is what I would call boring).
Unfortunately, Marrowbone doesn’t utilise its calm pace to define compelling characters nor to build up an atmospheric story: besides MacKay (who really shines here), everyone else is hollow and dull. Considering the twist at the end, that makes sense for Heaton and Goth’s characters, but it doesn’t justify Anya Taylor-Joy being wooden and annoying.
In all honestly, I can’t blame her for the dull performance, since she’s a fabulous actress in the other movies she starred. Here, the script of the direction by Sergio Sanchez are to blame. And that’s a real shame, since this is the guy behind The Impossible (2012) and El Orphanato (The Orphanage, 2007), one of the best horror movies of the 2000s!
Marrowbone is a film that looks good, features decent production values, honest camera work and that’s not enough for me, considering the immense potential behind and in front of the camera.
This is a film I got the chance to watch at a small festival in Italy and will be released in America and England on April, which means I can’t absolutely spoil any minor detail.
However, I can see many people praising it for its genius twist. My point though is that a film (whether it’s horror or not) is a ride that can’t be limited to its ending: every part of it is important, therefore a great ending can’t make up for the rest as well as a bad ending wouldn’t make me despise a movie I liked otherwise.
In conclusion, I’m really disappointed by Marrowbone, a horror drama that should’ve been completely awesome but, in the end, just falls flat.
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My review is also available on IMDb – Marrowbone