Magazine article Screen International

'Marrowbone': Toronto Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Marrowbone': Toronto Review

Article excerpt

A young family share their home with a malevolent spirit in the atmospheric debut of screenwriter Sergio G Sanchez

Marrowbone

Dir/scr. Sergio G. Sánchez. Spain. 2017. 110m

The past won’t let go in Marrowbone, a slow-burn, atmospheric horror movie that doesn’t lack for ambition or visual elegance. And yet, the directorial debut of Orphanage screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez is powerfully frustrating, undone by an ornate storytelling style in which twists only beget more twists, all in service of some fairly obvious observations about guilt, self-deception and devotion.

Sanchez envisions Marrowbone as a melancholy family drama with strong supernatural undertones

Unveiled as a Special Presentation in Toronto, Marrowbone will open in Spain on October 27 and features an up-and-coming cast that includes George MacKay and Anya Taylor-Joy. This muted, sensitive haunted-house drama will appeal more to art-house patrons than hardcore horror fans, who may balk at the protracted pace. Expect mixed reviews from critics - and much discussion about a gonzo third-act twist destined to irritate some audiences.

Set in 1969, the film stars MacKay as Jack, the oldest of four British children who have just moved to America with their dying mother (Nicola Harrison). After her passing, Jack decides that they must stay inside their big, secluded house until he’s 21, when he can become his siblings’ legal guardian - otherwise, the state would split them up. As the rest of the children hide in the home to avoid detection, Jack occasionally goes into town, where he falls for a local librarian (Taylor-Joy), but the family grows increasingly concerned that some malevolent spirit occupies the house’s upper floor.

Sánchez, who wrote the screenplays for director J.A. Bayona’s The Orphanage and The Impossible, envisions Marrowbone as a melancholy family drama with strong supernatural undertones that eventually come to the forefront. Working with cinematographer Xavi Giménez and production designer Patrick Salvador, the filmmaker gives the material a restrained, storybook aura that strives for realism but keeps hinting at something ominous lurking in the distance. …

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