BARE BONES: MARA (2018)

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MARA (2018)

Police psychologist Kate (Olga Kurylenko) is trying to determine if a woman named Helena (Rosie Fellner) brutally murdered her husband in their own bed. Helena claims her husband was being stalked by a demonic entity, but police detective McCarthy (Lance E. Nichols) thinks she should be locked up one way or the other. Kate’s investigation starts to reveal a series of similar deaths that may be linked to a sleep demon called Mara (Javier Botet) and worse yet…Kate might be next.

Very similar to the 2016 Dead Awake with Jocelin Donahue, which also involved sleep paralysis and a dream stalker, but this flick does right a lot of what that movie did wrong. Mara is a good example of how a skilled director, in this case Clive Tonge, can take very familiar story elements and make an entertaining and effective movie out of them. Jonathan Frank’s script offers nothing we haven’t seen before in films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Mama (ironically also played by Javier Botet), but the film is atmospheric and gives us some nice chills thanks to Tonge’s good use of these familiar dream demon tropes. Olga Kurylenko portrays a strong and likeable heroine to emotionally invest us and there is also a sympathetic turn by Doomsday’s Craig Conway as a war vet who’s crossed paths with Mara and is desperately wanting to be believed. Mara herself is a bit of a routine boogie man (boogie woman?), but she is utilized well enough. There is nothing new or inventive here, but there is some effective direction and good performances to turn the familiar into spooky entertainment.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: DOOMSDAY (2008)

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DOOMSDAY  (2008)

A fun tribute to 80s action classics like Escape from New York and The Road Warrior, that’s like a time capsule trip back to the that era of movies. Those who call it unoriginal and a rip-off, don’t understand that a rip-off wouldn’t be so blatantly obvious and downright giddy about wearing it’s influences so proudly out in the open. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of those two 80’s classics and with nods to other flicks like The Warriors and even Excalibur. Doomsday is a homage, and director Neil Marshall never intended it otherwise. I am a big fan of  Marshall and I get exactly what he was doing here. The similarities are all deliberate and taken as such, this film is a nostalgic blast.

Doomsday tells of a near future where a horrible and deadly virus has broken out in Scotland and the British government walls the country off and leaves the survivors to die. Britain is reviled and exiled by the rest of the world and now is becoming one giant slum. When the aptly named ‘reaper virus’ returns to London, the bureaucrats send loose cannon, Major Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) into Scotland with a team of scientists and soldiers to find rumored survivors and thus a possible cure. What they find are a number of living and dangerous threats including a vicious gang of punk rock cannibals and a society of people reverted back to medieval times, castle and all. Even if they find a cure they may not survive the inhabitants of Scotland’s wasteland to bring it back.

Marshall fills Doomsday with a lot of action and some of it very bloody and gruesome at that. The film rarely stops moving and delightfully spills plenty of gore between the fight scenes, zombie-like plague victims and hungry punk cannibals. The FX are all very well done, as are the stunts, and the cast, including Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell, are all playing it straight, yet having a good time. Let’s not forget to mention that Rhona Mitra makes an ass-kicking and smoking hot, female Snake Plissken/Mad Max mash-up. And if you haven’t gotten the point, Tyler Bates delivers a nice score that pays homage to those before mentioned 80s classics, as well. If you are a fan of 80s action flicks, especially Escape from New York and The Road Warrior, then pull up a chair, open a beer and relive the spirit of those genre classics that is so perfectly recaptured here. A fun retro blast of a movie from Neil Marshall.

A fun bit of trivia: Actor Craig Conway who plays the gang leader “Sol” also played one of the creatures in Marshall’s The Descent and a camper in the opening sequence of Marshall’s Dog Soldiers.

MonsterZero NJ Rant: I know how things work. If a movie doesn’t do well…and Doomsday didn’t…there is little or no chance of a sequel. But I really loved the character of Major Eden Sinclair and thought Rhona Mitra really pulled off the female Plissken/Mad Max hybrid while yet making the character her own. I would love to see Eden Sinclair return in another film adventure, but especially now years later, there is little or no chance of that. Bummer! A great character that would really rock in another adventure set in Marshall’s grim future, but alas, it most likely will never happen! Too bad! End rant!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) Eden’s

doomsday rating

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