Don't fall asleep! Here's our review of Mara starring Olga Kurylenko on Blu-ray!
A forensic psychologist (Olga Kurylenko) discovers that a series of murders has a supernatural cause: a demon that preys on people as they sleep. Also stars Craig Conway and Javier Botet. Directed by Clive Tonge.
The rise of PG-13 horror films have managed to provide moviegoers with some decent thrills by creating an unsettling atmosphere, without the blood and gore that would test the limits of an “R” rating.
Mara, though rated “R” for language and some disturbing images, tries to replicate that formula, but ultimately, it relies more on “jump” scares than psychological horror.
Steven Schneider, an executive producer for both Paranormal Activity and the Insidious movies, is also a producer in this film, which features an inventive premise. Kate (Kurylenko) plays a forensic psychologist who discovers that several murders, in which people die during a period of sleep paralysis, are actually being murdered by a demon named Mara.
Before Mara kills you, however, she marks you and torments you for several night, which leads Kate along a trail of victims who are all trying to avoid death.
Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) seems well-suited for the role, but a lackluster script lets her down, as it requires her to act less like a psychologist, and more like a paranoid conspiracy nut. The rest of the cast does admirably, despite the film’s pedestrian pacing, including Craig Conway, who plays a drug addict that discovers the truth about Mara.
The film lacks a overwhelming sense of tension, and without an ominous or impending threat, it’s hard to get a sense of dread. In truth, Mara herself isn’t particularly creepy or disturbing when she appears, so the film resorts to the aforementioned jump scares to raise the terror level. That isn’t a bad thing, as they are effective. I’m not one to jump in my seat at such things, but I’ll admit this film got me a few times.
It takes almost an hour for the plot to really get going, and for things to be fully explained. The logic behind the premise of a demon named Mara is pretty effective once you buy into it. Credit Craig Conway, whose character is marked for death by Mara, for really selling it to the audience. His performance is the glue that holds the film together, to use a tired cliche. He injects the film with the believability and paranoia that defines the movie’s third act.
Like most horror films, there is a bit of a twist ending, and the movie has a unique way of depicting sleep paralysis, which makes for some tension-filled scenes.
Mara isn’t a great horror movie, but it has its moments. If you’re looking for some easy jump scares, the movie is worth a watch, but it won’t exactly keep you up at night afterward.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
Mara features a desaturated color palette, and much of the film takes place at night. The video transfer, however, seems up to the challenge: the high-definition image is razor-sharp, with excellent detail visible in the blacks and grays.
The audio is an active 5.1 DTS-HDMA mix, which is used to great effect to accentuate some pretty good scares with rumbling bass and some inventive sound design.
Besides the digital copy, a single bonus feature is included on the disc, a short featurette.
Bonus features include:
“Mara: A Legendary Evil” featurette. Olga Kurylenko, director Clive Tongue, and members of the cast and crew discuss the legend of Mara and the real phenomenon of sleep paralysis. Running Time: 7:02
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, redeemable through services including VUDU and FandangoNow, is included. Digital codes for Lionsgate movies do not port to the Movies Anywhere service.
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Rating: R (Violence, language)
Running Time: 99 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-MA
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Special Features: Featurette, Digital Copy