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Mary Main

Mary Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by RLJ Entertainment

mary poster large

Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
84 minutes, 2019, Rated R
Released on Nobermber 26th, 2019

Gary Oldman as David
Emily Mortimer as Sarah
Stefanie Scott as Lindsey
Chloe Perrin as Mary
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Mike
Owen Teague as Tommy
Jennifer Esposito as Detective Clarkson

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This is one of those where I must start off by throwing out a couple of confessions. Here goes – I’m very uneasy with the open water and I’m a total freakin’ mark for Gary Oldman. I know that neither of these qualities make me unique (really, who doesn’t love Oldman?), but both salient points will provide a little bit of reference for the tone of minor vitriol that follows this opening paragraph.

Call me Charles Dickens, folks, because I had great expectations.

Were they unrealistic? Perhaps. The concept of a seafaring man (did I mention that he’s played by GARY FRIGGIN’ OLDMAN?!) who’s lured in by a boat in near-Christine fashion in an attempt to get a fresh start for his suffering marriage and beleaguered family is a solid emotional hook; the boat being utterly haunted by a witch “buried” at sea is a nasty premise with legit potential. Sadly, that brimming and multi-layered potential is squandered.

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David (Gary Oldman; Dracula, True Romance) and his wife, Sarah (Emily Mortimer; Lars and the Real Girl), are trying to recover from her infidelity. He’s also a very unhappy man, a talented boat captain who’s toiling away on someone else’s charters. When he sees the abandoned salvage boat Mary, an 80-plus-foot antique sailboat just like the one his Dad had when he was a kid, he’s drawn like a moth to the flame and simply must have her. He sees his way to escape the past and start fresh with his forgiven wife and two daughters, Lindsey (Stefanie Scott; Insidious Chapter 3) and Mary (Chloe Perrin; Jurassic World). The family cleans her up and repair her hull, but before they even set out (along with Lindsey’s boyfriend, Tommy) they’re already plagued with nightmares and a sense of foreboding. Why was Mary abandoned? What’s the real story? Nonetheless, they set sail for Bermuda (across the Bermuda Triangle, of course). Mental collapse, dark revelations, and supernatural horror follows. What happened to the family on the open ocean with no one to protect them from Mary and nowhere to run?

So I don’t appear to be entirely piling it on, I’ll address the positives first. This movie is a joy to watch from a cinematic standpoint. It’s wonderfully shot in 35mm Panavision with killer panoramic shots that highlight both the happy and the terrifying with a keen eye for detail. Needless to say, there’s also Gary Oldman. That man could read the damn phonebook for two hours and win awards, and he’s showing rare restraint in playing David rather masterfully as a believably normal and endearing man who just wants to be a good father, husband, and sea captain. In short, it’s great looking and Oldman almost saves it.


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The Christine flavor is abandoned properly and the film becomes much more about Sarah than anyone else. That’s not a deal-breaker issue, but she’s not the most strongly written character by comparison. The narrative device really damages the flow where chronology would have been a much better choice from a viewer investment standpoint. Mary jumps between the present-day interrogation of a surviving Sarah by Detective Clarkson (Jennifer Esposito; Summer of Sam) and a “Four Months Ago” series of flashbacks to the story of what happened. Any drama (i.e. did the girls survive?) is killed by this device. It does serve the purpose of a twist on the ending that is mildly effective and appreciated, but that twist also isn’t shocking enough to justify the jarring and overused setup. You’re left with a feeling of a film that can’t commit to horror, thriller, or family drama. Instead, Mary dabbles its well-manicured toes in the water of all three.

As a horror film, there’s one effective shot of a pitch-black silhouette of the witch on the moonlit water where you see just enough for your imagination to fill in the blanks that is perfection. Aside from that, however, it’s trope laden and clichéd – Dad and boyfriend tension, nightmares providing the “horror”, youngest daughter’s creepy drawings and imaginary friend followed by possession…you get the idea.

This one is a real bummer, honestly, because Gary Oldman doesn’t jump into the bloody end of the pool very often and you’re praying that it’ll be even half as good as it should be. Instead, Mary is as dreadfully average as your sort of cool, Harley riding Uncle Dave refuses to believe he is just because he has a kick-ass leather jacket.


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Movie: 2.5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer - USA
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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