Mara (2018)

 

mara

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What should be a simple murder case turns into something more sinister in the feature film directorial debut of Clive Tonge.

A woman has been accused of murdering her husband in his sleep with their eight-year old daughter as the sole witness to the crime. Criminal psychologist Kate Fuller is assigned to the case and she begins her investigation. She slowly begins to find some leads but when she finds a possible crack in the case, the only lead she has discovered is also found dead and a suspect by the name of Dougie has been accused of the crime.

During the interrogation with Kate, Dougie reveals that it is not him who committed the murder, but a malevolent presence known as Mara. He tells Kate how Mara, an ancient demon, kills people in their sleep. Kate begins to slowly experience the same symptoms as those who have fallen under the spell of Mara and finds herself having to stay awake. To make matters worse, Sophie, the eight year old whose father was killed, finds herself a potential victim of the demon. Will Kate be able to find a way to stop the demonic presence from killing her and Sophie or will it be too late?

British director Clive Tonge started his film career making short films but when it came time for his feature film directorial debut, he joined forces with Final Score and The Tournament writer Jonathan Frank to craft a story about a demonic presence who slowly inhibits and ultimately kills in their sleep. While this may sound like a certain razor-gloved classic villain, the presence in this case is a more demonic ghost. The film is quite a welcome meshing of influences from two well-known classic films, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Ring.

Former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko gives a very driven, emotional, and dramatic performance as Kate, the criminal psychologist who must attempt to discover not only who or what is responsible for the series of deaths that plague the city, but also find a way to put an end to the chaos. However, it is when she begins to experience the symptoms and thus, leading her to deprive of sleep that she brings out one of her best performances, proving that she can be more than just looks as she plays a less glamorized role.

The supporting cast is terrific as well as they play potential victims of the demonic Mara, played by Javier Botet. Craig Conway’s Dougie is the catalyst for the titular character to appear as it is he who, after being accused of a murder he didn’t commit, reveals how Mara begins her assault on her victims. Rosie Fellner’s Helena is the one whose apparent crime triggers the events of the film while Mackenzie Imsand’s Sophie is not only a witness, but finds herself possibly a potential witness. While it may seem like Lance E. Nichols’ McCarthy is just there because he is the detective in charge of the case, he does attempt to be a conscious figure to Kate during her slow spiral into madness.

Mara may at first seem like another ghost story, but add a twist akin to The Ring of sorts, and a great driven performance by Olga Kurylenko and you have a slightly above average tale of spiraling into madness that can be potentially fatal.

WFG RATING: B-

Saban Films presents a Moon River Studios production in association with Aloe Entertainment, Mann Made Films, Room 101, Synchronicity Entertainment, A Brighter Headache, and Digital Ignition Entertainment. Director: Clive Tonge. Producers: Scott Mann, Mary Aloe, James Edward Barker, Craig Chapman, Daniel Grodnik, Myles Nester, and Steven Schneider. Writer: Jonathan Frank; story by Frank and Clive Tonge. Cinematography: Emil Topuzov. Editing: Jessica Kehrhahn and Simon Reglar.

Cast: Olga Kurylenko, Craig Conway, Javier Botet, Lance E. Nichols, Rosie Fellner, Mackenzie Imsand, Dandy Barrett, Mitch Eakins, Melissa Bolona, Kathy McGraw, Jacob Grodnik, Gia Skova, BettyLynn Allison.

Saban Films will release the film in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on September 7.

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