*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* REGRESSION REVIEW *NEW*

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Regrezzzzion

The only thing this film made me feel was aggression. Two stars for the two leads.

A father is accused of a crime he has no memory of committing. Cue a dull by the numbers mind-number of a thriller.

The trailers didn’t give much away BUT as soon as I saw that it was penned by Alejandro Amenabar and starring Hermione from Harry Potter, I thought why not?

What a mistake. I expected Regression to be in a similar vein to The Others. Slow burning with a tense but thrilling finale. Tragically, this was just slow. Hawke’s detective desperately kept things watchable. Only because his character was so laughable. His volatile mood swings made for unintentionally comical viewing.

The premise behind the regressive hypnotherapy had potential but it never really got going. David Thewlis did his best to make the psycho babble engaging BUT all it did was reduce me into a hypnotic state. It took a good 30 minutes before anything of real merit grabbed my attention.

I couldn’t care for the crime aspect of the story. Mainly because it was so generic and formulaic. Hawke certainly did his best but the red herrings were so lazy that I was a little insulted. And poor Emma Watson. A talented actress. Reduced to a nothingy role that anybody could have played. The only thing I could applaud was her impeccable accent. She was either crying or spewing uninteresting bile and repeating the same old story that wasn’t that engaging the first time. A waste.

Thankfully the middle act offered some redemption for this shambolic dud. The supernatural element behind a suspect cult was the much needed catalyst. Something that Amenabar has always excelled at. So why didn’t he put in more of it?

45 minutes in. I was finally intrigued. Hawke’s headphone sesh around a dilapidated warehouse was tense and unsettling. A brilliant scene as Watson’s commentary juxtaposed with some creepy images really put the heebie jeebies into the demented rituals that were supposedly re-enacted in this messed up crime scene.

Amenabar delicately teased the darker intent of this mysterious cult. Torture, sexual abuse and horrific sacrifices. That and Hawke’s paranoia and obsession did just enough to keep me from walking.

At first I thought Daniel Aranyo’s cinematography was a little too dull and murky for this lifeless flick. BUT he was finally able to get a little more creative. Hawke’s dream sequences were slightly Kubrickian in their execution. Especially when he wakes up to the hooded white faced Dementors surrounding his bed. There was also another scene that was a perfect homage to Rosemary’s Baby.

Dale Dickey (Winter’s Bone) was probably the only other character that made a memorable impression. She played the grisly grandmother with aplomb. If anything there wasn’t enough of her. She really stole every scene she was in. And for all the mystery, I expected more to be made of her character.

And that was the problem. The real horror after a promising second act was that it was all for nothing. The finale was terrible. The revelations were tragically predictable. It took a direction I really hoped it wouldn’t and with a twist you could see a mile away.

I can see what Amenabar was trying to do BUT it ruined the film. And the ‘Based on a True Story’ end credits undermined the whole piece for me. If not for Hawke and Watson’s involvement, I honestly don’t think this would have graced the silver screen. If anything, this is the sort of paranormal cold case story I see constantly featuring on the numerous channels of my Sky box.

Shame.

2.5/5

THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH REVIEW

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Looks like the franchise died before it could even begin.

This hollow (but occasionally jumpy) sequel feels like nothing more than a ghost of it’s predecessor.

As the film came to a close, I had a horrible feeling. Not one of unease or relief but one of disappointment.

Now, I have never seen the theatrical production of the Woman in Black but have been told endlessly to invest (Which I shall!) but I did see the first feature installment.

It was Daniel Radcliffe in his first post-Potter role and was hyped as the must-see horror film of the year. Challenge accepted. And to my surprise, both were actually very good. Tense, atmospheric with a solid British cast and it even managed to make me jump quite a few times.

A success. Quite rightly so. Which meant one thing. A sequel, of course!

So here we are. Dear, oh, dear.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. The opening showed promise. The Eel Marsh house in all it’s eery and (terribly grainy) detail. A heart beating as the camera pans closer and closer. Creepy stuff.

The beats juxtaposed with the air raid bombing was a clever technique. Director Tom Harper didn’t overdo his handling of the Blitz. The panoramic view of the damage of the Blitz on London was subtle but harrowing.

The bombing quickly established a likeable lead in Phoebe Fox. I expect to see more from her. The characters were quickly introduced and sent on their way in one nice package.

I liked the concept of the evacuees escaping to the countryside. That’s what did happen and it made the whole revisit to the manor that much more believable. Plus it allowed for a few more interesting things to happen. I say a few. One thing involving a dummy airfield.

Fox was a strong character and I actually cared for her. Which always helps. A lot of horror films fail to tackle this issue which makes it harder for you to get caught up in the scares. Even if the scares are pretty tame, you still need to care what happens to the characters.

Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders. A series I strongly recommend) played the stern headmistress as well as she could. Her character Jean Hogg felt too much like a stereotype. Don’t get me wrong, women were strong during the war.

But she seemed a little lifeless behind her “I am hard because I have to be. We are in a war” face. I can relate to it certainly but there wasn’t much else to her sour faced demeanour.

And that was a major problem this time around. Even though the sequel felt like a pale imitation of the first, the characters also felt like ghosts of themselves.

Jeremy Irvine (War Horse/The Railway Man) was incredibly stocky and bland. It was only near the end of the film in which the inevitable fling heated up and some chemistry finally occurred that I found myself interested.

There were only three of the children that got moments to shine. The rest . . . Well, frankly. They didn’t need a class of them. Not even red herrings for the dark menace. I mean, lady.

Oaklee Pendergast (Real name. I know, right) was excellent as Edward Lee, a pupil orphaned by the Blitz. He played the role well and brought the relationship between Fox’s Miss Parkin and Lee to the fore.

George Steel’s cinematography was terrible. Normally I commend an attribute but it was all too grainy and dark. I couldn’t see a thing. In certain scenes, it added to the tension. In others, I couldn’t even see where Parkins was going in the derelict village.

It made it all look so painfully dull. I understand that it was the Blackout and the war time BUT I couldn’t see the demon doing her thing!

There were good portions where the tension and atmosphere built things up well. BUT a majority of the time to no avail.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a couple of jumpy bits that got me pretending that there was something wrong with my chair as to why I moved so frantically.

BUT at the same time, I felt the film had to rely on incredibly loud music to get you to jump. I don’t have a cinema sound system at home and I’m sure if (IF) I watched this again, it wouldn’t have half the impact.

It also relied on the original gags to get your pulses racing. The window, the rocking chair, the noose. All managed to get me twitching and twerking (No, not that twerking) again but it felt a little lazy. Relying on all the things that made the first film so good and not building on or re-working it in any capacity.

Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders/Storage 24) did his best to deliver as the creepy blind hermit, Jacob. For some bizarre reason, he really doesn’t want you to look at him. For those who have seen it, you’ll know what I mean.

Adrian Rawlins (James Potter from the HP movies) as the irritable Dr Rhodes had potential but didn’t really go anywhere or . . . come back for that matter.

I had to get a Potter reference in there somewhere. To be honest, I was waiting for Radcliffe to float in and scream, “EXPECTO PATRONUM!” just to get this dull, dreary flick going.

It had a faint whiff of The Others with The Ring BUT it just didn’t reach the heights you’d expect and it all finishes so flatly and predictably that I felt a little miffed. Putting it mildly.

Okay at a push. And that is only because I have seen so many terrible horror movies the last few months that this manages to trump over them. BUT that wasn’t necessarily a tough barrier to break into.

Atmospheric in parts. The odd jumpy moment. BUT it fails to capture the fear, the characters or the gusto that made the first film so good. I fear though that there may be another on the way. If so, whoever takes it on make sure not to slap any old thing together or else that will face an exorcism like this one!

2.5/5