Marrowbone

The Secret of Marrowbone (2018) or Marrowbone (original and much better title)

IMDB Synopsis

A young man and his three younger siblings, who have kept secret the death of their beloved mother in order to remain together, are plagued by a sinister presence in the sprawling manor in which they live.

*Spoilers*

Sometimes I’m in the mood for something gentle and spooky, much like the Gothic novels I like to read in the Autumn.

Marrowbone is perfect for these occasions and ticks all the creepy boxes nicely. It also offers up a genuinely moving tale of loss, secrecy and familial loyalty which plays out in the hands of a good-looking young cast, which includes The Witch‘s Anya Taylor-Joy, Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton and A Cure for WellnessMia Goth.

When the family matriarch (Nicola Harrison) passes away after an illness, eldest son Jack (George MacKay) is left to keep the family afloat. Having promised his mother on her death-bed to keep her passing a secret from society, lest the children be split up, Jack keeps his siblings mainly indoors. This arrangement is far from satisfactory to Jane (Goth), Billy (Heaton) and little Sam (Matthew Stagg) but needs must and all that.

Marrowbone

Especially when the family harbor more than just this secret. Comfort and normality does come to the children however, in the form of the lovely Allie (Taylor-Joy) who befriends them instantly and becomes a joyful part of their every day life. But, as the romance between Jack and Allie deepens, love rival Porter (Kyle Soller) becomes dangerously jealous – and this in turn threatens to bring the true story of the Marrowbones out in the open.

And what’s with all the weirdness going on at the house while we’re at it?

What I like about Marrowbone is that for a long time we can only feel the tension and the fear as it manifests itself around the family home and for a contemporary ghost/horror not to play its hand so soon makes it stand out more to me. You can’t accuse this of being scary really but it has some effective moments and I enjoyed it as a thriller that sometimes has the vibe of a Sunday night BBC drama. (Not necessarily a bad thing).

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As the story unfolds it leaves you feeling more and more sympathy for the family and the climax is a bit of a corker, in a heart wrenching way. It also looks at mental illness from an interesting perspective and in a way I haven’t seen that much before on film.

Not bad at all.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories (2017)

Directed by: Andy NymanJeremy Dyson
Starring: Andy NymanMartin FreemanPaul WhitehouseAlex Lawther

IMDB Synopsis

Arch skeptic Professor Phillip Goodman embarks upon a terror-filled quest when he stumbles across a long-lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable ‘hauntings’.

*Minor spoilers*

Man, I love me an anthology and this British horror ghost collection is no exception. It’s fucking weird though, which is hardly surprising given the involvement of The League of Gentleman co-writer Jeremy Dyson.

Skeptical Pro Goodman (Nyman) makes his living debunking all manner of supernatural goings on. If there’s a dodgy séance going on in a chilly church hall, he’ll be there to expose it for what it really is: a pile of steaming bull crap. Straight up, the Pro does not believe.

When he receives a mysterious summons from an old inspiration, he’s tasked with uncovering the so-called truth about three so far unexplained ghost sightings. These stories revolve around a night watchman (Whitehouse) in an abandoned asylum (what good could ever come of those words, I ask you?), a beastly haunting in the woods and a pesky poltergeist.

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Will these stories chill Goodman’s blood and turn his head forever – or will he see the strings and disprove them once and for all? Well…

I saw this early as part of Odeon cinema’s Scream Unseen and I was pretty stoked about it. Based on the stage play of the same name, also by Nyman and Dyson, it’s genuinely creepy in places. It’s also bat shit crazy and plays with structure, keeping the traditional format fresh.

Unlike most anthologies, it keeps things tight with no truly weak links. I think my favourite setting is the asylum (which comes down to personal taste) – and Paul Whitehouse blew me away as the rattled former night watchman who has no explanation for what he saw one fateful night.

We also meet Simon Rifkind (Lawther), a young man too scared to sleep after an altercation in the woods with something inhuman. Lawther to me is one of our best new actors, catching my attention in the deeply distressing Shut Up and Dance episode of Black Mirror and most recently in The End of the F***ing World. His Simon is borderline deranged and can you blame him?

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Lastly we spend time with banker (and new dad) Mike Priddle, who lives in a grand old house in the country. He tells the story of his own personal haunting and it’s a dozy, obviously.

Each of the segments display the sense of humour you’d expect from this team and the climax is pretty special. It might not be for everybody but I appreciate it for what it is – a ghost story that plans to stick in the mind, not fade from memory seconds after the credits roll.

I hope people will see this and love it. It’s just so nice to see something on the big screen that’s brings something new to the table. There are so many mediocre American horror films being churned out – sometimes you just need a little injection of something new.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Winchester