• Mara (Lionsgate) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: Novemebr 6th, 2018.
    Director: Clive Tonge
    Cast: Olga Kurylenko, Craig Conway, Javier Botet
    Year: 2018
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    Mara - Movie Review:

    Scientifically speaking, explaining the phenomenon of sleep paralysis is fairly simple – your brain wakes up while your body is still asleep. That doesn’t make experiencing it any less of a nightmare. Your eyes open in a dark room. While you may recognize where you are, you’re still confused – possibly in a state of panic. You try to move but can’t. You feel pinned down, like something is holding you there. You feel an evil presence in the room. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. If you could turn your head, maybe you could locate it – but you can’t. Your head, like the rest of your body, is locked in place. You are trapped alone in a dark room with an evil being and can’t do a thing about it. You can’t even scream. In reality, it’s just your lizard brain shooting false signals of distress in reaction to a situation it can’t make sense of, but good luck in getting your evolved brain to realize that in the moment. Sleep paralysis is frightening and it’s amazing that it’s taken this long for somebody to make a horror movie about it.

    According to “Mara”, sleep paralysis is not a simple matter of your mind playing tricks on you, despite what the films well-intentioned scientists keep informing the protagonists. Nope. Sleep paralysis s caused by an ancient sleep demon that has been haunting humanity since before the birth of Christ. For many sufferers, she’ll just mess with them and then move on her merry way. For others, she marks them, torments them, and ultimately kills them by strangling them in their sleep. What separates the two groups? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

    Olga Kurylenko plays Kate, a psychologist helping a child survive the trauma of witnessing her dad die in his sleep. Initially, the child’s mother is held as the main suspect in the mysterious death. The mother maintains innocence, claiming that her husband was killed by an invisible force while she watched. When Kate discovers the mother also murdered in her sleep, she begins to suspect that the murders might be supernatural in origin. She befriends a support group of sleep paralysis sufferers. Despite their insistence that they are being stalked by a demon, their group leader shrugs off their worries as paranoia as a result of sleep deprivation. When they begin dying one by one, he reluctantly assists Kate in her quest to find out what is actually going on.

    Not surprisingly, the film plays like a combination of the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” (the scary one – the one before Freddy Krueger became a murderous stand up comedian) and the “Conjuring” movies. Jump scares abound, and they’re mostly earned. There are a couple gory moments, and they are cringe-worthy (in a good way). They also flesh out the plot and help explain why the characters are so afraid.

    The performances are great all around. Olga Kurylenko manages to keeo the fantastical events grounded through her character who just wants to help the people around her. Mitch Eakins is great as Martin, the scientific leader of the support group who does whatever he can to alleviate the problems suffered by his group, even if it means entertaining thoughts of an ancient sleep demon. Craig Conway steals every scene he’s in as the English ruffian taking the Vyvyan Bastard method to dealing with the demon (it involves a very special blend of psychology and extreme violence).

    Mara is a great entry in the ever expanding “killer demon” genre and stands up with some of the creepiest movies released in the last few years. Don’t pass this one up. Give it a view.

    Mara - Blu-ray Review:

    The transfer looks amazing, framed at 2.39.1 and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Contrast is important in a movie like this, due to so much of its plot taking place in near complete darkness. Due to the quality of the picture, discerning the subtle differences between dark, shadow, and the creepy things that lurk in the shadow is quite easy.

    Similarly, the sound (in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio) is great. Dialog is audible and well balanced with whatever is going on in the background, and the jump scares jump without destroying your speakers. Optional subtitles are provided in English.

    Special features consists solely of a short featurette that dives into the making of the film as well as its premise. It’s not must see viewing, but it provides a fun glimpse into the directors study of sleep paralysis, as well as how the cast and crew used that research into making the movie.

    Mara - The Final Word:

    Mara's got a little something for every type of horror fan. Do you like your horror movies to be on the cerebral side to give your brain something to chew on between scares? Mara's got you covered. Do you like monsters and ghoulies lurking in the shadows, only to jump out when they're least expected? Mara's got you covered. Do you like quality, cringe-inducing gore? Yup. You're covered.

    Highly recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Mara Blu-ray screen caps!