Monday, February 11, 2019

Review: Mara

Given the prevalence of sleep paralysis, I'm surprised there aren't more movies made about it. There's the excellent -- and creepy -- documentary The Nightmare, as well as the low-budget Dead Awake, but that's pretty much it.

Then along comes Mara, sporting a high-profile leading lady in former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, and the promise of some decent scares. Does the film breathe cinematic life into what can be a real-life horror show for many people?

I'm pretty sure director Clive Tonge didn't have a lot of money to play with, but he compensates by crafting a decent story, and doing his research into sleep paralysis and the folklore around it. And he doesn't rely on CGI or special effects when it comes to his monster, Mara. Instead, he goes the James Wan route, using an actor and in-camera effects.

Truth be told, the film's best special effect is Kurylenko. She's always had a real screen presence and better than average acting chops. She's quite likeable here, and does her best with the material. And yes, she looks amazing in every shot she's in.

Mara has a lot going for it, but the pacing is sluggish, and it just doesn't deliver on the scares. The Nightmare is far more frightening, and that's a documentary. It's for that reason alone that I have to give the film a Bad. Too bad, as it had all the right pieces in place to be better.

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