Best known for his cinematography work in the likes of American Horror Story, Scream Queens, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, My Name Is Earl and much much more, Michael Goi also has plenty of directorial credits to his name. These include Megan Is Missing, episodes of American Horror Story and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and now the aquatic horror MARY.
Despite knowing some of its haunting past and secrets, a father (Gary Oldman) buys an old boat to be able to leave the daily grind and captain his own ship for a charter-boat business. This sounds about as bad an idea as you’re probably thinking it does and things soon get spooky as they head out to sea.
Having a horror movie on a small boat doesn’t happen as much as I’d personally like because they are perfect for it. The reasons for that are all on display in MARY. Everything feels quite claustrophobic. When a spirit is after you and you’re in these tiny rooms, there’s nowhere to go and it doesn’t get much better if you’re out on deck because there’s no real escape. Yes you can take your chances by jumping overboard but when there’s eight foot waves and it’s raining heavily, this doesn’t seem like a good idea. And the characters in MARY face this problem again and again.
Filmed at sea (which causes its own problems) helps the movie. It looks great and the characters look in peril. It’s no surprise at all that Goi is a cinematography because there’s times when the movie looks stunning. Some great wide shots of the boat alone on open water but also some bleak shots when the rain is lashing down on to the characters and they are in panic.
Unfortunately the movie is a little light on horror. It comes in short bursts, usually a loud noise scare out of nowhere and while this does often work to produce that scare, it left me a little disappointed because it just didn’t happen enough. the creepy-looking Asian horror influenced spirit did not get enough screen time. In fact one of the most violent moments comes from the young daughter of the family in a ‘come out of nowhere’ incident that is genuinely shocking.
Emily Mortimer and Gary Oldman are obviously great actors and they put in reliably good if unremarkable performances. Director Michael Goi hinted in the Q&A after the movie that, for various reasons, quite a lot was left out of the film that he hopes will be seen on home video releases so it will be interesting to see if this would have changed the movie much.
I was left thinking this could have been so much more and I can’t see myself watching repeat viewings. That said, this is an entertaining enough ninety minutes that supernatural movie fans will no doubt enjoy.