The Secret of Marrowbone

01/05/2019 12:29

Film: The Secret of Marrowbone

Year: 2017

Director: Sergio G. Sánchez

Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez

Starring: George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy and Charlie Heaton



This was a film that I wanted to catch in the theater when it played a limited run, but I didn’t get a chance to catch it. I heard a podcast talk about this film and it had an interesting premise. I finally checked it out during my round-up of 2018 films. The official synopsis is a young man and his three younger siblings, who have kept secret the death of their beloved mother in order to remain together, are plagued by a sinister presence in the sprawling manor in which they live.

Something I have to give this film is its set-up. I like that we get this family as they are moving into their new house. The mother is Nicola Harrison. She is big on them forgetting what happened in England, where they are originally from. She heavily relies on the eldest son, Jack (George MacKay), to help her out. His siblings are Billy (Charlie Heaton), Jane (Mia Goth) and Sam (Matthew Stagg).

To complicate things, the mother passes away and she is concerned with the family being split up. They are to hide in the house until Jack turns 21 and can become the legal guardian. We also get a glimpse of a man outside. He shoots the window with a rifle he carries and Jane screams.

We then shift into the future a bit. The kids all go and explore the surrounding area. They come to a rock formation where someone talks to them. She makes it into a fairy tale, which is actually very fitting for the overall story. The young woman turns out to be Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy). She hangs out with the family and takes a picture of them.

Jack ends up falling for Allie, who feels the same about him. He can’t reveal about his mother to her and doesn’t really share much about his past. She is also being pursued by Porter (Kyle Soller). He is a lawyer, who has aspirations of moving to New York, but he is handling the estate of the Marrowbone family. They owe money and the mother needs to sign the official documents. This isn’t the only thing they have to worry about. Sam believes there’s a ghost in the house and that it lives in the attic. What is really going on at the Marrowbone estate?

To start off this review, I want to get out my positives. The first is the atmosphere. This house is so large and is falling into disrepair that it is perfect for a ghost story. We have a group of kids, who don’t have jobs and have to hide so it does well at building the suspense and tension for these reasons. They are isolated in the middle of nowhere which also contributes to this feeling.

I also like the back-story to this film and what we slowly get revealed. Learning who the father of this family is and the reason that they fled from England to America was quite interesting. Something else to go along with this is that the film takes place in the 1960’s, so it actually makes it that harder to find them. Which also makes it that much scarier that they are found.

The film does have its issues for me though. The first thing is that the film is too long. I understand that there’s a lot of story that the film wants to get across, but the problem is that it plays too much like a drama and it drags things out that does hurt the tension. I actually think if they trimmed some of this up, it would have built the tension and helped it move along. There is a great twist though for the reveal that I really liked. Seeing what the truth of this secret was, but I think due to the length, it diminishes it a bit.

Acting for the film though was really good. MacKay I thought was solid as the brother who is doing what he can to keep his family together. It is a lot of pressure for someone who is under the age of 21 to deal with and I thought it was interesting. I am curious though as to why 18 wasn’t the age, as that is age of being adult now. I would like to see if it was different in the past. Taylor-Joy was quite amazing in this film and the same goes for Goth. They are both actresses that keep working in the genre and they are phenomenal in the roles they take on. Heaton was solid to see in this film. What I find interesting about him is how rash he is in his decisions. This comes into play later in the film and it is solid. I also thought Stagg was fine, as more of the scary things happen around him, which is fitting for his age. Soller was also solid as a villain in the film along with Robert Nairne, whose look was quite creepy.

As for the effects of the film, there didn’t really seem to be a lot. The first thing is that they really didn’t need a lot of them. I do believe that the ones we get were all done practically and the only CGI I could recall were the animals. I didn’t mind that as they acted like they should. The look of the film was solid and making the era come to life was well done. Making the house look run down did help with the atmosphere.

The score of the film really didn’t stand out much either. There is a song that is played to help get through some scary sounds that they are listening to. I thought that was a good touch. The sounds of things that are in the attic were quite creepy as you don’t know what is causing them, which is solid.

Now with that said, this film does have some good aspects to it. The first of which is a solid back-story and build up of the film. I do think that they draw it out too much and it plays as a drama. I think tightening that up would have helped to ramp up the fear of the film. I do think that the acting was really good and the effects were fine for what we got. The score of the film doesn’t add much, but the sound effects were good. I do think that this film could have been much better and it is disappointing some of the missteps. With that said, I still think this film is above average and worth a viewing if you like atmospheric horror with a solid twist.


My Rating: 7 out of 10