A lot of things have to go absolutely right for a genre film to be effective. The acting, cinematography, screenplay, and visual effects all have work in concert to suspend disbelief and create new worlds for the viewer. Certainly a film can lack in one or even a few of these qualities and still be enjoyable. For a straight forward, dramatic horror/thriller film, however, there is one quality that must exist in order for it to be effective--atmosphere. This is the very area where Mary struggles.
Mary at first seems like a straightforward and sharp plot for a moody horror film. David (Gary Oldman) purchases a sailboat under the pretense of starting a charter business with his family. There is financial risk voiced by his wife Sarah (Emily Mortimer) who eventually acquiesces. Soon the couple, both their children and a couple of other bodies are off on a maiden voyage. See, it might surprise you to find out that this a haunted ship.
And so, we have the natural setup of a haunted house film but contained on the close quarters of a rickety old sea vessel. Albeit not a strikingly original premise, it is one that has opportunity for creepy music, vicious jump scares, bombastic performances, and haunting, spine-chilling atmosphere. The last however is where the film really falters. Even though Oldman and Mortimer are really acting their asses off here, it isn’t enough to overcome the flaws and carry the film into an experience worth investing in.
In a film like Mary, with its small cast trapped in a single location, atmosphere needs to thrive and get under the viewer's skin. And what drives that atmosphere? Tension, stakes, and fear of what may happen to this family. Mary does all it can to undercut this possibility from frame one as the film begins at the end. In the film’s opening sequence Sarah reveals to a police officer (Jennifer Esposito) that everyone is dead. Now it’s not that this framing is a complete deal breaker for a tension filled horror film. But the filmmakers have set themselves up with an unfortunate obstacle that they are unable to overcome. Множество бонусов в Columbus Casino доступны для новых игроков сразу после регистрации
Effective tension should arise effortlessly and nearly imperceptible to the viewer. We don’t even know we’ve felt it until it’s burrowed its way into our skin and infected our nervous system. It turns out tension and atmosphere are much like a magic trick. Once you see the strings the illusion is broken and there’s no going back. Everything about the atmosphere and mood in Mary feels forced and stilted like a bad relationship where the person is trying to make you feel something you don’t.