The Secret Of Marrowbone (2018) Review

The Secret Of Marrowbone (2018) (Spanish: El secreto de Marrowbone)

Directed & Written by Sergio G. Sánchez

Starring: George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth, Matthew Stagg, Kyle Soller, Nicola Harrison, Tom Fisher, Myra Pearse

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young man and his three younger siblings, who have kept secret the death of their beloved mother in order to remain together, are plagued by a sinister presence in the sprawling manor in which they live.

My Opinion:

I’m super picky (snobby?) when it comes to horror. I think 90% of modern horror films suck. So why do I keep watching them?! I’ve seen a lot of extra bad ones lately, too. Ugh. But I keep watching them because it’s a genre I really like on the rare occasion that there’s a good one nowadays. This is one of those “pretty good” ones. Yay! It’s certainly no masterpiece like The Shining or something but I enjoyed it. And I also somehow didn’t guess the obvious ending (duh).


Horror is probably the most divisive genre, though. Well, horror & comedy. So this one won’t work for everyone like it did for me. I prefer psychological horror and/or supernatural horror & I like when they actually have decent characters instead of poorly written, hateful ones. This film isn’t going to change the world and I can’t say it’s something we haven’t seen before but it’s definitely a well-made psychological horror with decent characters. The story revolves around four siblings who have to keep their mother’s death a secret until the oldest boy turns 21 and can legally take care of them so that they don’t get separated. I really did feel for the oldest boy and the pressure this responsibility had on him. It was sad how it kept him from being able to live his own, normal life (he’s in love with their neighbor, played by Anya Taylor-Joy).


And then, of course, there’s the “sinister presence” in their house (their house which of course is in the middle of nowhere – the “neighbor” I mentioned is still miles away from them). I won’t get into that to avoid spoilers but I’ll say there’s probably much less of that spooky presence than hardcore horror fans may be wanting. The focus of this film really is on the drama of the story and the character development. It may be too slow for some but I really enjoyed seeing a modern horror film with strong characters and a good, solid story. I liked it. YES. Finally. I liked a modern horror! (But I liked A Quiet Place even more – that’s a great modern horror!)

My Rating: 7/10

How I Live Now (2013) Review

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How I Live Now (2013)

Directed by Kevin Macdonald

Based on How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Starring:
Saoirse Ronan
Tom Holland
George MacKay
Anna Chancellor

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.

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My Opinion:

I watched this movie having no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about it other than reading the plot synopsis online. It sounded like it could be a cheesy YA post-apocalyptic romance as it’s based on a YA book (that I’ve actually not read! Thought I’d read that entire genre). No, this movie isn’t exactly cheesy. It has a more serious tone than I was expecting and is more like a weird combination of the original Red Dawn (not that awful remake – Chris Hemworth’s hotness couldn’t even save that) and that SUPER DEPRESSING British TV movie Threads (I don’t recommend that one – bloody hell!). But with a love story thrown in, of course. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how convincing the romance really is and Saoirse Ronan’s character is hard to sympathize with, even after seeing the hell she goes through after war breaks out while she’s in a foreign country. Well, foreign to her – she’s an American in the UK. Like me!

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First of all, I’ll say this movie is very “me” as I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction. I’ve read most the YA novels in this genre, I did a list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies (HERE), and the only story I’ve ever written in my life was about a group of teenagers who’ve survived an apocalypse (it sucked, of course – I’m not a writer). This was years before this & all the “dystopian future” YA novels were such a big thing & I love that it’s such a huge genre now (even if it IS getting a little old it’s still better than Sweet Valley High). Anyway, How I Live Now feels much more realistic than the future we see in movies such as The Hunger Games & The Maze Runner. It’s set now (I believe) instead of some unspecified future and very much feels like something that could happen at any moment. I think this makes it a much more powerful movie. It may not be as “entertaining” as The Hunger Games but it feels a lot more grown-up than other YA stuff, which is something I really liked about the film.

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However, I unfortunately found it really hard to relate to the characters – especially Saoirse Ronan’s “teenager with issues & an attitude problem” Daisy. She’s very neurotic before the war breaks out & she does learn to stop worrying about all the superficial things in life that really don’t matter after London is bombed but she still comes across as very selfish since all she seems to care about now is being with the boy she’s fallen in love with since coming to England. Or should I say… her COUSIN?! Did I miss something? Anyone who has seen this feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but… they’re cousins, right? Like, possibly first cousins? I know they don’t say what her exact relationship is to them through her mother but that’s a little weird! Anyway, I had no issues with any of her cousins. The young girl named Piper (who I found out is the voice of Peppa Pig after watching this. how did I not notice that? I hate Peppa Pig!) and a boy named Isaac are both very sweet but Eddie, the one Daisy falls in love with, doesn’t have much of a personality. I can’t help but feel that these two main characters are probably MUCH more developed in the book. I think the movie really doesn’t do a great job fleshing these two out so I may read the book now as I really liked the story. If they’d done a better job with the main characters, I think I’d have liked this movie a lot more than I did.

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Summary:

How I Live Now may be based on one of a myriad of “post-apocalyptic YA” novels but has a more serious & realistic approach and feels much more grown-up. I liked the tone of the film and found the soundtrack very interesting. Aside from Nick Drake, I’ve not heard of any of the artists on the soundtrack which is unusual for me – It’s cool to hear some songs I don’t already know in a movie. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t very well developed & I didn’t feel like I knew anything more about Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy at the end of the film than I did at the beginning. I think it would be worth reading the book first to really understand Daisy’s feelings & motivations. It’s a good story overall but I’m thinking it just didn’t fully translate to film. If it sounds like something you might like, I’m going to recommend reading the book first even though I have yet to read it myself. I just think it’s likely you’ll get to know far more about the characters than you do in the movie.

My Review: 6.5/10

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