If you’re a horror movie fan, you might think that with a title like Marrowbone, this is going to be one of those cheap and very gory movies. You know the ones that try to grab your attention with a nasty title and an even nastier poster. However, the movie we will be talking about that is something quite different. It’s a directorial debut for Sergio G. Sánchez, Spanish writer and now director behind some really cool movies like The Orphanage and The Impossible. And you can really feel that European sensibility not just with the atmosphere but also with the characters.
The story follows four siblings and their mother trying to escape the clutches of a very evil man. I don’t want to go into details as Marrowbone is one of those movies best viewed with as little information as possible. Granted, this may cause some confusion as the first half of the movie is relatively sluggish with only hints of what’s about to come. So, if you’re looking for one of those scary and jumpy movies, you won’t find it here. We will get to know our characters well through some pretty solid storytelling.
The cast was simply excellent and everybody did a terrific job. In addition to a couple of familiar faces like Anya Taylor-Joy and George MacKay, we have Charlie Heaton and young Matthew Stagg also giving strong performances. I wish we saw more of Mia Goth but what can you do. The atmosphere is suspenseful and full of mystery as we slowly piece the puzzle of what’s happened. And, more importantly, what’s going to happen. Of course, you can place your bets and see how you fare in the end. I was only half-right.
It is the year of our Lord Satan 1968 and Rose along with her four kids arrives in a peaceful village in Maine. She fled England to get away from her evil husband and settled in her childhood home, the Marrowbone Residence. The family seems to have settled quite well, enjoying nature and freedom after many torturous years. However, trouble seems to have a strange habit of finding them. So now they all must work together to overcome it once more.
Marrowbone at times feels like a dark fairy tale firmly rooted in reality. If that sentence makes any sense. We even have a narrator telling us what’s going on. In that sense, I think that the movie is similar to some of Del Toro’s works like Pan’s Labyrinth. Mostly because it deals with similarly difficult and harrowing issues. Domestic violence is one of the main ones although there are a couple more. I think they could’ve explored more the small-town mentality but that would make the running time even longer.
The cinematography is gorgeous along with that creepy old house. Everything feels like it’s set much farther in the past than the swinging sixties. Not until Jack reaches town do you realize that we’re in the 20th century. With a small cast and just a few sets, Marrowbone is an effective horror movie with a thrilling finale. So often we see movies falling apart in the final third that it’s really refreshing to see one that actually gets better.
Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Marrowbone, I recommend you check out The Hallow, Housebound and The Others. However, we also shouldn’t forget about a couple of great Spanish movies albeit with an urban setting. Sleep Tight and The Uncertain Guest are incredibly engaging and authentic movies I’m sure you’re going to enjoy. And if you’re looking for something a bit more recent, do take a look at The Night House.
Director: Sergio G. Sánchez
Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez
Cast: George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth, Matthew Stagg, Kyle Soller
Fun Facts: The actors playing the siblings in this movie share the age difference of their characters in real life. George MacKay is the oldest and so forth.