October 7, 2019 Mary (Movie Review)
On open water, there’s nowhere to run! Prepare yourselves for the voyage as Academy Award winner Gary Oldman helms the new Horror-Thriller vessel Mary, which arrives to select theaters as well and VOD and Digital on Friday, October 11th, 2019, thanks to RLJE Films and Entertainment One.
Struggling blue-collar captain and maritime expert David Greer (Oldman: Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1992, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 2011) might be Florida’s best fishing boat captain, but he dreams of making a better life for his family behind the wheel of his own ship. When chance causes him to encounter a 70-year-old sailboat up for auction, and he finds himself oddly drawn to the beautiful vessel, he becomes invigorated with hope for his family’s future. Convincing wife Sarah (Emily Mortimer: Lars and the Real Girl 2007, Mary Poppins Returns 2018) is no easy feat, but eventually she relents and the pair set sails for a brighter future.
Aboard for the ship’s maiden voyage as a member of the Greer family are David’s daughters, teenage Lindsey (Stefanie Scott: Insidious: Chapter 3 2015, Beautiful Boy 2018) and little Mary (Chloe Perrin: Jurassic World 2015, Single Parents series), who proudly shares a name with the mysterious ship. Also along for the trip to the Bahamas and Bermuda are Lindsey’s boyfriend Tommy (Owen Teague: Bloodline series, It Chapter Two 2019) and David’s second-hand man Mike (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo: The Magnificent Seven 2016, Murder on the Orient Express 2017).
As they float through the mid-Atlantic, things take a turn toward the strange on board. Already tense due to a family secret, the Greers and their passengers are experiencing noises and voices in the night. Muddy footprints frequently appear throughout the boat, and several of the group are seeing things. When several individuals’ personalities seem to alter overnight, fear begins to mount. Desperate for answers, Sarah starts to wonder if they should turn back and, worse yet, if the ship is cursed.
Clocking in at 84 minutes, Mary was directed by Michael Goi (Megan Is Missing 2011, American Horror Story series) and written by Anthony Jaswinski (Killing Time 2002, The Shallows 2016). It also features the acting talents of Jennifer Esposito (Dracula 2000 2000, Crash 2004), Michael Landes (Gold 2016, Hooten & the Lady mini-series), Natalie Jean (The Cemetery 2013, Noah 2014), and more.
Billed as a blend of Horror, Thriller, and Action, Mary floats comfortably in that amorphous Horror-Thriller categorization, but leans more heavily towards a Thriller with some Horror elements. With an exceptional cast, beautiful oceanscapes, a wonderful soundtrack from The Newton Brothers (The Haunting of Hill House series, Doctor Sleep 2019), and a haunting premise, it’s guaranteed to be a hit, right?
Well, maybe? Simply put, Mary is neither ingenious nor a disaster: it floats through the Atlantic on the foundation of a generic screenplay that integrates suggestions of the paranormal with family life on the high seas. With hints of possession and vengeful spirits, Mary is a fairly commonplace haunted house flick set on a boat. Additionally, the framing device that utilizes Esposito’s talents as Special Agent Lydia Clarkson has certainly been used ad nauseum and lends certain scenes to a Law & Order aesthetic, giving the film a made-for-TV feel.
Certainly Oldman and his co-stars are all solid in their roles as the Greer family and friends, and there are no faults to be had in that respect. Working with the material they are given, the talented Oldman and Mortimer relate a loving but wounded marriage, playing off one another organically to tell the tale of a couple who are grasping at hope to save their family and their finances. Their joint performance lends a realism to this paranormal tale, one that gives the film a boost above similar offerings.
Similarly, Little Perrin is adorable as the haunted Mary, while Scott does an excellent job of portraying the hyper-aware teen daughter. Garcia-Rolfo is given little to work with, save for being a sidekick, but he does a good job with what’s made available to him. Last but hardly least, Teague also does well in his role as Lindsey’s love interest, and delivers one of the most haunting performances.
In 1979 The Amityville Horror introduced an evil house, while in 1983 Stephen King’s Christine morphed all things vile into the shape of a car—so why not an evil boat? With several jump scares, Mary is an entirely average entry into the Horror-Thriller field but not a bad one. While the plot comes together a little too quickly and is spelled out too explicitly to allow much deep thought, this in no way demeans the overall experience. Buoyed by a strong cast, Mary is suitable for a lazy Sunday afternoon on the sofa in your PJs. For this, Cryptic Rock give the film 3.5 of 5 stars.