The Secret of Marrowbone

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Sergio G Sánchez

Starring

Anya Taylor-Joy George MacKay Mia Goth

Anticipation.

A hot young cast run about an old haunted house. Could be worse?

Enjoyment.

And, it transpires, it could be so, so much better.

In Retrospect.

A retro chiller with positively no new or interesting moves.

Despite boasting a talented young cast, Sergio G Sánchez’s creepy chamber piece doesn’t add up to much.

Someone could make a lot of money by inventing a system which helps homeowners feel safe visiting their attic space. A dusty, dimly-lit attic plays a key role in this dramatically underpowered mid-century chiller, in which the eccentric Marrowbone family are forced to deal with both the literal and metaphorical demons who have chosen to reside above their heads.

George MacKay is Jack, the oldest of four siblings charged with laying low in a spacious, chicly distressed American farmhouse following the death of their mother. Once Jack hits 21, he can lay claim to the property and live there legally. Yet there are problems, such as a nosey local lawyer (Kyle Soller), and the arrival of a man who may be their estranged father and the reason why they fled overseas from England. Their only friend is personable librarian Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who also lives a solitary life despite being warm for Jack’s form.

Writer/director Sergio G Sánchez takes a fair old time to introduce his intriguing players and sunny setting in the hope that he can later fire out a glut of gnarly plot twists. The problem with the film is that it is most interesting when doing as little as possible, such as watching the kids roam about the house, picking summer fruits or dashing through the surrounding woodland.

The revelations, when they arrive, chip away at any credibility and emotion the film might have generated, making it feel like a mechanised boobytrap rather than an engaging and tragic exploration of the coping mechanisms we develop to deal with trauma. The actors appear to be going through the motions in order to serve an increasingly silly storyline which outstays its welcome by a good half-an-hour. It all just about comes together in the end, but it’s strange that a film which tries so hard to be surprising can be so predictable.

Published 13 Jul 2018

Tags: Anya Taylor-Joy Charlie Heaton George McKay Mia Goth Sergio G Sánchez

Anticipation.

A hot young cast run about an old haunted house. Could be worse?

Enjoyment.

And, it transpires, it could be so, so much better.

In Retrospect.

A retro chiller with positively no new or interesting moves.

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