The Secret of Marrowbone, directed by Sergio G. Sánchez, sets up an interesting premise that keeps you absorbed until the finale but it also suffers from many lulls which, occasionally, make it feel like the film is dragging but, first, let’s give you a little background on the narrative.
Before the death of mother Rose (Nicola Harrison), she tells her eldest son Jack (George Mackay) that he must keep his three other siblings together and make sure nobody knows she has died until he is 21, and then he can legally take care of them. We then discover that the house is allegedly haunted and that this ghost appears in mirrors, so the family keeps those reflective surfaces covered or hidden.
The film focuses mainly on Jack, his love interest Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy) and a local lawyer, played by Tom Fisher, who is interested in the house and also in Allie. They all put on excellent performances and make you care about their characters, even though at times this love triangle feels like a period drama. Fans of Netflix hit show Stranger Things – like me – will also quickly take note of Charlie Heaton’s performance as Sam Marrowbone, which is impressively well delivered.
Sanchez both writes and directs The Secret of Marrowbone and overall impresses. You’ll speculate over what the actual mystery is and as the film develops, you continue to ask yourself more questions. You will be thinking to yourself: Why is the Tom character interested in the house so much? What is in the attic? Is there even a ghost? All this is tightly written, and drip-fed to you in a manner which pulls you in. The conclusion itself will be up to interpretation as to whether it was satisfactory or not, I found it to be somewhere in the middle. I was not disappointed, but neither was I shocked.
The biggest issue with The Secret of Marrowbone is that despite aiming to be a horror film, it’s not really full of enough scary moments to make you jump. For me, it falls into the psychological thriller bracket as I never felt a big scare was coming. Quite often, the actions drags between scenes and instead of tension, gives you quiet talking scenes which, as previously mentioned, make the film lull. There are good moments especially towards the end where you do get that sense of fear, but The Secret of Marrowbone needed more of this throughout, rather than just at the end.