The Secret of Marrowbone
This has been a great year for horror, dominated by a few strong titles that have set high expectations for viewers. Audiences expect clarity fear, and attractive visuals – three ingredients that sound manageable enough when listed in quick succession but are evidently harder to pull off in practice. The Secret of Marrowbone, directed by Sergio G Sanchez (The Orphanage), manages two out of the three to at least some degree, but falls short of being as concise and tight as one might like. Audiences have grown so accustomed to the twists and turns of non-linear plots that it seems some directors have attempted to over-extend this technique in response.
Set in 1960s New England, the movie’s grayscale palette makes for a moody, creaking world. The Marrowbone family move to the States for a fresh start, but find themselves still haunted by their troubled past after the death of their mother. In an isolated, decrepit house, the siblings find themselves struggling to stay as a family unit in a manner that accesses similar notes to A Series of Unfortunate Events. Despite periods of tension amidst Sanchez’s subtle use of light and a few pointed scares, the movie loses itself a little in its plot, which is haphazardly paced and fails to capitalise on the strengths of the setting.
The standout performance here comes from George MacKay as Jack Marrowbone. As the eldest child, he is both the most vulnerable and most responsible, at the front line of his siblings’ defence. MacKay is capable and convincing, even working a script that is at times clunky and unidiomatic. Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton also makes a strong appearance but has little room to show off his proven skill within the confines of the role. Unforutnately, Anya Taylor-Joy, smart beyond her wide-eyed glances, is not made sufficient use of, and is sometimes hampered by a character that is never given space to fully form itself
Creatively, The Secret of Marrowbone is heavy with atmosphere and lays fertile ground for a classic instalment of East Coast overcast horror. Good content, quality characterisation and punch delivery, however, are a little thin on the ground.
The Secret of Marrowbone is released nationwide on 13th July 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Secret of Marrowbone here: