When I first started watching MARROWBONE, a 2017 horror thriller directed by Sergio G. Sánchez, I thought I was watching a late 19th century period film. Only later into the movie are we told it’s actually 1969. The film stars George McKay as Jack, a young man that has fled to America with his mother, played by Nicola Harrison and his three younger siblings to escape a major plot point that I will of course not reveal here. Soon after they arrive, their mother falls ill and passes away. She tells Jack to care for his siblings and not reveal her death until he has turned 21 and can legally care for them. Six months after her passing, the children are visited by a stranger. I definitely don’t want to reveal too much more of the plot, as the film contains many twists and turns that I wouldn’t want to spoil in any way. The younger siblings, Jane (played by Mia Goth), Billy (Charlie Heaton from Stranger Things) and Sam (Matthew Stag) all deliver on great performances that carry the film through the majority. We also see great performances by Anna Taylor-Joy (Split, The Witch) as Jack’s love interest and Kyle Soller (Fury) as a prying lawyer and romantic competition for Jack.
As I said at the beginning of the review, I thought I was first watching a period film from the late 19th century. The director chooses to use a very drab aesthetic while in the house. It’s not until later in the film, when we travel to town with Jack, so we see that it’s 1969. The house has no modern conveyances, so it creates a shocking twist when we see the modern world for the first time. Out in the world, we see brighter colors and a modernity lost on the home in which the children stay locked away. Every visual choice is perfectly expressed in the set design and lighting.
This film does require you to be patient, as it takes a rather jarring leap in time in which things happen that are not revealed until the ending. This causes a great deal of confusion, but just hang in there because the payoff is worth it and I feel that they tie up all the loose ends nicely by the end. To explain any more would be revealing too much, but suffice it to say that this film is rich and complex, delivering on horror, drama, thrills and a love story worthy of it’s own film. The young cast proves itself to be a powerhouse, bringing the story to life with skill beyond their years, particularly George McKay and Kyle Soller, who I will certainly be seeking out in the future.
MARROWBONE arrives in select theaters, On-Demand, iTunes, and Amazon Video today, April 13th.