Although a decent effort on the executive level, “Mara” never leaves its own comfort zone of being “just another horror movie in 2018”.
Olga Kurylenko plays a psychologist named Kate Fuller, who collaborates with the local police to investigate a series of brutal murders. The breadcrumbs all lead to a supernatural force – a demon, which kills in sleep.
When you watch a lot of horror movies, you find yourself trapped in the cage of your own omni-knowledge of sorts.
It happens, because most of the writers working in this genre copy the achievements and ideas from their predecessors. It’s a rare experience to watch a flick as memorable and deep as “Hereditary”. Since many horror movies are campy and poorly executed, the ones that achieve even a certain level of visual artistry are given attention.
This is the case of “Mara”. Clive Tonge, the director of the film, is a diligent craftsman who knows the horror drill. He is well versed with moments when light plays its role in the jump scare, as well as what makes up for a borderline creepy haunts.
The problems begin when you stop flipping through the pages on the surface and actually begin to “read”. The concept of “Mara” is a great premise – a demon paralysing its victims and killing them in their sleep. Sadly enough, it is totally wasted by an ill-conceived script. There is many potholes (like who exactly gets killed and why?) and many ridiculous half-baked ideas. The main character is clueless for the most part, while supporting roles are completely schematic – like the dismally stereotypical half-wit detective.
Olga Kurylenko is also a miscast. Her Eastern European accent doesn’t quite fit the character (especially since it’s never properly explained) and the emotional part of her role begs for more credibility. It often seems like Kurylenko received too direct cues in many scenes, given by Clive Tonge. As a consequence, doctor Kate Fuller is quite an unstable and hysterical person for a psychologist.
“Mara” works only if you leave these in-depth elements behind. Digging deep into the logic of the script is a meaningless endeavour. It’s better to try enjoying the cheap thrills or get a little help from a bottle of wine. Then, Clive Tonge’s “Mara” might actually be scary.