Marrowbone - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Marrowbone


    [​IMG]
    Movie: :4stars:
    Video: :4stars:
    Audio: :4.5stars:
    Extras: :1.5stars:
    Final Score: :4stars:



    [​IMG] Movie


    The gotchic horror genre is one that has been fairly neglected as of late, but even so, there have been a few notable entries over the last 15-20 years. Guillermo Del Toro dipped his toes in with The Devil’s Backbone, and J.A. Bayano made the fantastic The Orphanage back in 2007. Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others was another that really was a sleeper hit back 2001. Now the writer of The Orphanage (Sergio G. Sanchez) takes a stab at the same genre, but does so with a few twists and turns that pull it farther from the “horror” genre, and more in the direction of a period piece drama with gothic horror elements. Marrowbone (or The Secret of Marrowbone as it’s known in other areas of the world) came out without any real fanfare some months ago, and I completely ignored it until I got the opportunity for this review. The picture made it look like modern stylings of an IFC film that Scream Factory would normally do, so I wrote it off, only to be surprised when I actually started watching (yes, I’m one of those people that didn’t even watch the trailer, I’m sorry) and realizing that this was a COMPLETELY different film than I was expecting. There’s a few plot hiccups, but Marrowbone is a twisted and convoluted film that keeps just enough from the viewer to keep theme guessing, and hides a few key plot points so that the audience really CAN’T guess some of the twists that are coming.

    You may notice that all of the films I mentioned above were Spanish films. Del Toro cut his teeth making Spanish gothic horror films, and his influences are still seen in his modern fantasy flicks. J.A. Bayano is as well, and since Sanchez was the writer for The Orphanage, you can be pretty certain he is as well. Also of note, Marrowbone’s producer, Alvaro Augustin was producer for all three of these films, making a distinct connection in collaboration and style between all 4 movies. If you’re a fan of any of those three films, then Marrowbone should be right up your alley. Set in 1969 America (but filmed in the Spanish countryside), it follows a family of 5 who comes over from England fleeing something horrible. The mother defaults to her childhood country estate in some unnamed Midwest town and assumes her maiden name of Marrowbone (which is also the name of the manor as well), hoping to raise her three kids in peace. Tragedy strikes when the mother falls deadly ill and passes away leaving Jack (George Mackay), Billy (Charlie Heaton), Jane (Mia Goth), and young Sam (Matthew Stagg) with nothing but their family home.

    The problem is that since they are all under 21, the state would have come in and taken them to a foster home where the family would be separated. Begging Jack to take care of them, the mother instructs him to hide from the world as best he can of her death, and wait it out the few years until he is 21 and can take over legal guardianship. Doing the best he can, Jack hides from the rest of the world, only going out to make contact with the local librarian Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy), as there seems to be a darker secret. The 4 children cover any mirror out there, secretively whispering about a ghost that could come at any time, and lock themselves a way in terror until Jack can turn 21 and get out of there.
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    The biggest selling point about Marrowbone that it is NOT your typical Spanish Gothic horror film. In fact, you don’t really get a hint of a ghost until about the 30 minute mark. Up until that time it’s a touching family drama about a group of young kids trying to survive as best they can without an adult present. Then when the ghost “strikes” we’re left with a thousand questions? Is it a ghost of their murderous father? Is it their imagination? And is any of this ACTUALLY real? There’s a clue earlier in the film, but it’s hidden so well that you don’t realize when two different timelines actually overlap, and it’s not until the end of the film that we realize that we’re looking at two separate time periods. A slick move which keeps the audience guessing about what they are talking about, and as the plot is revealed, the audience is clued in to the fact that we might be talking to an unreliable narrator. Making the entire thing a twist within a twist.

    I’m not going to give anything away about the father, the ghosts, the third twist, or anything more as this film benefits from the first viewing being a blind one. That being said, I really think the film opens up and becomes more enjoyable upon subsequent watchings. At that point the major “twists” are revealed and the audience is viewing through a different lens, allowing us to see all of the hidden clues and intricacies of Sergio G. Sanchez’s script. There’s a few plot holes and the first “twist” (that you don’t know about till the very end) is a bit a brain turner. Once you realize what actually happens it becomes almost cheesy and stupid, but it’s the final twist that actually turns the ghost story in on it self and comes back full circle. Watching it a second time makes it an ENTIRELY different type of film and can be enjoyed on a different level as well. Everyone did an amazing job in the film, especially Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch and George MacKay. Their relationship sets up the third act and really fuels the terror of what REALLY is happening. Mia Goth is perfect as Jane, being that she is one of the most visibly creepy actresses I’ve ever seen, and her “semi abused” look blends in seamlessly to a family struggling to survive.




    Rating:

    Rated R for some violence




    Video: :4stars:
    [​IMG]
    I couldn’t glean much information about what Sanchez used for shooting Marrowbone, but from what little info is out there I gather they used several forms of the typical Arri Alexa cameras and finished at an unknown resolution master. For the wide release Blu-ray (there IS a 4K UHD release, but it is a limited run exclusive only to Best Buy) it is a great transfer and fully saturates the viewer into the Gothic world that Sanchez has created. Most gothic noir style horror films trying to saturate everything in dark shadows and deep morose blues, but the Spanish director has gone a different route with his visuals. Most of the film is bright and sunny, with warm honey colored shots that show hints of darkness and shadows at the corners, but still likes to bathe in the sunlight. There is a light green tinge to the film that permeates the entire picture, with primary colors and softer shades showing a bit less saturation and pop due to the somber grading. Up close details are usually very revealing, but it’s the long shots that tend to be a bit soft (seemingly by design, as the cameras show RAZOR sharp detail on close ups). Faces show off cuts, bruises and little bits of facial hair, while the falling apart country house is visible in all of it’s ram shackle glory. Blacks are deep and inky, showing off great shadow detail and the final “battle” up in the attic is shockingly revealing.





    Audio: :4.5stars:
    [​IMG] I was a bit surprised, but Magnolia gave
    Marrowbone a full on Dolby Atmos track, and one that really actually puts it to good use. The sound design is rather subtle at first, but after the first half an hour the creepy ambiance just oooooozes in from every corner of the sound stage. The overheads enjoy some discrete creaking and groaning of boards, while the whole stage swirls around with soft hums, creaks, moans, and visceral shock sounds that the second half of the movie employs. Overheads, while in use, don’t get as MUCH playtime as I would have hoped, but the LFE comes in deep shocking blasts, and the dialog is firmly planted up in the center front of the room. It’s a great track, and one that I really didn’t expect to get the Atmos treatment (and thankfully benefits from it).






    Extras: :1.5stars:
    [​IMG]

    • Deleted Scenes
    • Marrowbone Behind The Scenes
    • Marrowbone Visual Effects Reel









    Final Score: :4stars:


    In my opinion, Marrowbone benefits from repeated viewing a good bit. I’m not saying that the film is bad by ANY stretch of the imagination upon first viewing, but that those little nuances and hints laid throughout the film become more obvious upon a second attempt. Plus, the twists and turns take some time to gestate and you really do get more out of them when not surprised and shocked by it all. I’ve been a huge fan of Sanchez’s work since The Orphanage and think he did a pretty stinking good job for his first time directing a gothic period horror film. The Blu-ray audio and video is quite good, but I sadly wished for a FEW more extras from Magnolia. All in all, definitely worth checking out and a massively pleasant surprise from the low budget schlock I was initially expecting. Good Watch.



    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Mia Goth, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, George MacKay
    Directed by: Sergio G. Sanchez
    Written by: Sergio G. Sanchez
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
    Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core)
    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
    Studio: Magnolia Pictures
    Rated: R
    Runtime: 110 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: August 7th, 2018






    Recommendation: Good Watch

     
    #1 Michael Scott, Aug 7, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  2. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Nice review Mike. I've seen a handful of the titles you reference and I'm not entirely sure they all fill my cup, so to speak.

    I'm going to put this one down as *maybe* for me!
     
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  3. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

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    Thank you for the review. This film is up my alley and I will be watching it soon. I really enjoyed The Orphanage and Devils Backbone.
     
  4. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    if you liked those I have a feeling you're going to like Marrowbone. It's very different than either of those movies at the end, but still similar in sooooo many ways.
     
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  5. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the review. Will check it out.
     

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