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 film, 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 cinematographer because there are 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 a panic.
Unfortunately, the movie is a little light on horror. It comes in short bursts, usually, a loud noise scares 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. In the end, though, I was left thinking this could have been so much more. That said, this is an entertaining enough ninety-minutes that supernatural movie fans will no doubt enjoy. MARY arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on November 26, 2019 and includes bonus features such as “The Making of Mary” and “A Family at Sea: The Cast of Mary.”
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