*NEW* THE SECRET OF MARROWBONE REVIEW *NEW*

A secret worth finding out?

From the writer who penned The Orphanage . . .

I will admit I may have set my expectations a little high. To see a low key period horror pop up during the summer blockbuster season was a shocker enough.

A young man and his three younger siblings, who have kept secret the death of their beloved mother (Don’t worry. That’s not the secret!) in order to remain together, are plagued by a sinister presence in the sprawling manor in which they live.

As their mother crossed a line across the dusty and dilapidated landing, a promise was made: “No more memories. We are the Marrowbones”.

I feared the worst with the nauseating opening act (and Anya Taylor-Joy’s (Split) dreadfully corny introduction) as the kids adjusted to the seemingly peaceful and idyllic tranquility of the Marrowbone estate. Free from their troubled past.

BUT thankfully that didn’t last long. Or else we would have had one hell of a boring affair.

I couldn’t really call this a horror. I felt a little misled by the marketing BUT that didn’t spoil too much of my enjoyment. Especially when the delightfully shady estate lawyer Porter (Kyle Soller – Poldark) reared his ugly head.

If anything, Marrowbone was more of a psychological thriller. NOT to say I wasn’t wincing in places. There were some brilliantly executed moments of tension. It’s funny how several sinister chords and a tattered sheet over a broken mirror could leave me with no finger nails.

By the 30 minute marker, I was hooked. Right up to the gripping finale as the siblings did everything possible to keep up the rouse.

Every time poor Sam (Matthew Stagg) went off for a wander, I feared the worst. Tiptoeing around the house, afraid to wake the ghost. A story to keep young Sam out of trouble? Or something more?

Creepy and unsettling. This reminded me very much of The Others and The Innocents. 

The pacing stumbled in parts and the big reveal of the secret will definitely split people. Some will laugh at the convoluted unravelling, others may be surprised and love the direction it took. I was somewhere in between.

BUT I have to commend the impressively talented and underrated cast; featuring the likes of Mia Goth (A Cure For Wellness) and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things).

I wasn’t sure that George MacKay would be strong enough for the leading role. I was never convinced with his turn in Sunshine on Leith (despite stellar supporting turns in Pride and Captain Fantastic) BUT I have to say I was impressed with his performance. Showing his range in the final third.

Everyone got their moment to shine. I loved the chemistry between MacKay and Joy. Thankfully Joy’s character came into the fold a lot more as everything came to a head.

It wasn’t perfect and its tough not to discuss plot points without spoiling crucial twists.

BUT it was different, killed the time and if you’re in the mood for a low budget creepy little mystery, check it out.

2.5/5

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*NEW* SPLIT REVIEW *NEW*

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A return to form from the maestro who brought us The Sixth Sense?

Or another dud to add the ever-growing backlog from that guy who gave us The Happening?

In a nutshell, meh.

BUT one thing can be agreed, James McAvoy was excellent.

Three girls are kidnapped by a man diagnosed with 23 distinct personalities. They must escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

I think it’s fair to say that M. Night Shyamalan’s movie have . . . split audiences. Ba-dum-tssh. I read that somewhere and had to put it.

I’ve always loved the premises BUT his execution? Well . . .

Desperate to be the next modern Hitchcock (The opening title sequence for Split resembled something out of Psycho!)

His big “twists” and mad endings have failed to impress of late; The Visit (Laughable), After Earth (Jaden Smith, say no more!), The Lady in the Water (Apart from that breaking of the 4th wall moment, woeful) and The Happening . . .

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How could I forget?!

What do you mean, where’s Signs and The Village? I *shuffles collar* actually enjoyed those movies. Yes, I know. Aliens attack Earth and their sole weakness is water. I know! BUT Mel Gibson and Johnny Cash, man!

I digress. I was actually excited by all the trailers to see Shyamalan’s latest thriller and I didn’t mind it. It was alright BUT it just didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The opening didn’t mess about. An air of unease established straight from the get go as McAvoy’s “Dennis” made his introduction to the unsuspecting trio.

Funny that I was praising Anya Taylor-Joy in another mediocre movie (Morgan). She played the withdrawn but resourceful Casey well.

I didn’t expect to see Grace from Skins (Jessica Sula) in the troubled party either.

Their initial captivity felt like something from Kiss the Girls with a hint of Misery. 

The first half hour set a slow burning atmospheric thriller with all sorts of questions flying around. 

Every time I could feel my patience wading, McAvoy’s Dennis would introduce another personality.

McAvoy continues to impress yet again. I don’t think I would have been half as interested if he wasn’t at the helm. 

He stole the show with everybody else playing second fiddle.

And that was part of the problem, every time the action was taken away from him, I lost interest.

Betty Buckley (Carrie) didn’t do a bad turn as Dr Fletcher, the therapist desperate to help the troubled mad man. Fighting for “their” cause. Playing a very dangerous game. 

There were genuine moments where I felt tense. Especially when she worked out that she wasn’t talking to the “right person”.

The girls played their parts well and were quite resilient.

I expected more cliched horror movie gaffs with three teenage girls at the centre of the chaos BUT they were fairly strong characters. Not bad, Mr Shyamalan.

BUT one thing that bugged me the most was the film’s actual premise. 23 personalities?

All those trailers, billboards, posters. 23 personalities. Did we actually get 23 personalities?

*POSSIBLE SPOILER*

For the majority of the film, we only had 4. Great performance from Professor X but a measly number that increased to maybe 7 by the end? Come on now.

It was great how with a twitch in the face and a burrow of the brow; McAvoy’s infantile nine year old Hedwig could transform into the meticulous and obsessive compulsive Dennis. 

His Patricia could easily have bordered on a parody of Mrs Doubtfire.

Thankfully, it didn’t.

BUT this could have been done in 90 minutes and been better for it. 

The pacing hammered the piece for me and the final act dragged.

There was so many meandering flashbacks into Casey’s past, I kept wondering what the relevance of them were? 

They killed the tension and annoyed the hell out of me.

All the talk of a Beast. This new and vicious 24th personality. Those crazy descriptions and the big reveal, the “What a twist” moment didn’t quite deliver.

It was certainly creepy and unsettling with Shyamalan teasing the die hards BUT it didn’t quite pan out the way I hoped.

Different. Watchable. BUT thriller of the year? Meh.

Certainly worth a view for one stellar performance from the super Scot.

A return of sorts. Not his best. BUT certainly NOT his worst by a country mile.

3/5 (Just)

*NEW* MORGAN REVIEW *NEW*

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Boreee-gan, more like.

Original, I know. A bit like this movie’s premise.

A corporate risk-management consultant (Kate Mara) must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being (Anya Taylor-Joy).

If Ridley Scott’s son wasn’t directing this, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this feature as a Late Night Premiere on the SyFy Channel.

Despite an eye grabbing opener with Morgan lashing out at her carer (Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight), the film was put on the back burner with a meandering pace and mindless exposition.

Kate Mara (House of Cards) will probably be the only one to come out of this unscathed. She might have featured in some duds (*Cough* Fantastic Four *Cough*) BUT I was impressed with her performance as Lee Weathers.

The extreme pixie haircut, cold demeanour and abrupt manner made her the most interesting character out of the bunch. I was more intrigued with her agenda than meeting the sulky Morgan.

I was surprised at the star studded supporting cast involved; Brian Cox, Narcos’ Boyd Holbrook, Toby Jones and Michelle Yeoh. A shame that none of them really made an impression.

Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) wasn’t too bad as the eccentric behaviour therapist and delivered a decent American accent. The only problem was that she wasn’t in it enough.

“Morgan’s not a she. She’s an it”.

I was happy to allow the pace to trundle along if the film went somewhere BUT for an hour, we had existential waffle, followed by more existential waffle and then . . . You get the idea.

The whole thing was a poor man’s Ex Machina. I’d seen it all before and done better. We had the same debates about defining humanity, action and consequence, cause and effect. Yawn.

I was NOT a fan of The Witch BUT thought Anya Taylor-Joy delivered a good turn. The same can be said with this. She did the best she could with the character BUT I was just wasn’t emotionally invested like I was with Alicia Vikander.

The corporate angle had potential as the scientists exchanged heated debates over artificial intelligence and profit BUT it never really took off.

“This is not Helsinki. Those were crude prototypes.”

What happened in Helsinki? All we had were endless references to an incident that was never expanded on or explored. This was the only loose thread I wanted to know about? Was there a failure? Did they go Westworld on them? What?!

The pace dragged and all the science-y stuff about Morgan didn’t do anything to help.

Within a month, she was a walking and talking biologically advanced toddler. Within a year, she could control and alter her environment (Why couldn’t we see any of that?). By the age of five, she was  . . . a sulky pale looking teenager in a hoodie. Riiiiggghhhttt.

The creepy Silence of the Lambs vibe was engaging enough as Weathers and Morgan had their intense stare-off and the game of cat and mouse began. The questions piling up. Is Morgan sentient? Is she aware of her abilities? If she can do all these things then why the hell is she sitting in a cell?

Taylor-Joy delivered a masterstroke with the expressions. She looked scary and sincere in the same instance and things (finally) picked up when Paul Giamatti’s Dr Shapiro arrived to perform a psych evaluation.

There was genuine suspense and tension as Shapiro bated Morgan. Questioning her motives and emotions. Goading her to react. A ticking time bomb. I could have watched a whole movie of just that.

The last 20 minutes seemed to realise it was clasping at straws and cranked the pace up to 11 with a frantic, violent and rushed finale.

The only problem was that with this sort of story line, there was only ever going to be two outcomes which made the end result pure predictable hokum.

Once you took away the tension and philosophical sparring, you had something very much like the protagonist; a cold pretty looking effort.

Mark Patten’s cinematography certainly made the idyllic setting surrounding The Facility like a country paradise BUT if Ex Machina hadn’t beaten Scott and co to the punch, this may have fared better.

BUT only ever so slightly.

Despite a talented cast and a mad dash finale, this was tragically flat and disappointing.

Watchable guff BUT nothing to shout home about.

2.5/5