Wednesday, November 27, 2019

MARY (2019) Blu-ray Review

Mary (2019) d. Michael Goi (USA) (84 min)

Stymied by having to struggle to make ends meet working for other venues, over-the-hill captain David impulsively purchases an abandoned ship, much to the dismay of his practical wife (Emily Mortimer) and two girls (Stefanie Scott, Chloe Perrin). After pouring their savings into repairs and restorations, the family takes the Mary out for her maiden voyage, with first mate Mike (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and youthful family friend Tommy (Owen Teague) aboard. But as is so often the way with discarded seacraft, a sinister curse seems to hang over the ship from bow to stern, muddling the minds of passengers and crew alike and causing them to lash out at one another with increasing violence and unpredictability. Trapped in the middle of the ocean (near the Bermuda Triangle, as fate would have it) with nowhere to escape, the hours tick by with certain doom drawing ever nearer….

While he’s never been the choosiest of actors, you really have to wonder what the hell Oscar winner Oldman was thinking when he signed on to sail this bilge barge. I mean, how expensive are those mortgage payments these days, Gary? Ditto Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns), who serves as our potentially unreliable narrator, relating the fateful events in flashback to an interrogation room police detective (Jennifer Esposito).

As written by Anthony Jaswinski (The Shallows, Vanishing on 7th Street), it’s almost surprising how few surprises there are in store for our waterlogged band – people start inexplicably going mad and causing harm to themselves and others, the ship mysteriously drifts off course, tensions run high, computer-generated spooky images appear behind people, and so on.

Longtime American Horror Story cinematographer Goi (who also served as DP here) has only helmed a handful of features (including the scrappy, flawed, and occasionally terrifying Megan is Missing), and while he has a good eye for visuals, the performances from all assembled range from shrill to shriller, and because of the inherent claustrophobic location, he’s somewhat limited in terms of finding variety of setting. Hence the occasional bird’s eye view of the boat isolated in the middle of the water, with nothing around for miles. It’s a haunting reminder of a) the characters’ isolation and b) the fact that there is no place for them to go. (Esposito’s character actually asks Mortimer at one point, “Why didn’t you just get off?”, as if we needed the point hammered home.)

The elevated caliber of performers actually makes the pedestrian nature of the enterprise all the more disappointing; I felt suckered in by Oldman and Mortimer’s presence, and found myself wondering if I would have been as peeved had I been watching no-name actors looking for their big break. Ultimately, I decided it wouldn’t have made that much difference, except for the fact that I probably wouldn’t have bothered watching it in the first place. The final result is competent but completely unremarkable and of interest only to Oldman completists.


The Making of Mary (6 min)

Family at Sea: The Cast of Mary (5 min)

Mary is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from RLJE Films and can be ordered HERE:


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