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While not perfect this movie had some great creepy moments and was an interesting take on the sleep paralysis/night hag phenomenon.
The main issues I had were that at times the film dragged a little and some of the characters were a little bit cliched but overall I enjoyed it and it's well worth a watch.
Chilling and suspenseful!
A Russian-American psychoanalyst whose mother had a schizophrenic break and a fondness for cheap Asian trinkets pulls a confession from a little girl who says her mother killed her father. The strain of guilt causes the psychoanalyst to pop a blood vessel in her eye, which in turn causes her to hallucinate about an evil Buddhist demon that visits people in their waking sleep.
While the premise sounds like it could be something, most of the imagery is sorely devoid of substance, making the movie feel about 20min too long. But hey, at least it has Olga Kurylenko.
Sleep paralysis is interesting enough - but this movie uses some worn out ideas to tell the story.
"Mara" is a somewhat failed attempt at producing a horror flick that appeals to all audiences as a novelty in the genre. Perhaps, as other horror productions, the makers of "Mara" were simply not intent on creating a new generation of films, like "Omen" or "The Exorcist." It succeeds in presenting a few forgettable (light-hearted and risible, to day the least) scenes with the anoraxiac sleep demon terrifyingly groping from behind a torn mosquito net. It offers little in the way of being the "bogeyman" for future generations, but at least it accomplishes one thing: most horror flicks are based on myths. "Mara" is one of those, and (albeit the etymology of the word remains unexplained; cf. nightmare = nightMARA, Fr. cauchemar =caucheMARA), it myth is conflated with the findings of meticulous investigation, according to which, sleep paralysis in human medicine is often deemed as a demonic entity immobilizing the sufferer. Its eclectic style of making a hodge-podge of crime movies, psycho-thrillers, and didactic investigation movies, "Mara" remains a one-night stand: stylish in its exposure of gore, elegant and watcher-friendly as far as its length goes, and the rigor mortis of a few cadavers literally evokes the rigor one experiences before that one-night stand. It's flaccid again, memories are gone, and even the name Mara will not give one the goose flesh if the unsuspecting individual of one's one-night stand of the future happens to be a slightly more obese, hence titillating Mara.
Sometimes I feel that one of the greatest strengths of the horror genre is its ability to churn out countless horror films made by countless people who all love it. Yet, it can also feel like a very big weakness as well. A lot of those movies are most likely in the middle to the low-end of the quality pile. It's a hard genre to lock down as a lot of the time, they have ideas and themes that are so enticing but in honesty have a low percent of actually being part of a good film. This is what has been on my mind after watching a couple of unknown to me horrors on Netflix like Mara. Sadly, Mara is so bland and lifeless that there is very little to like about it, themes and all.
Mara is about Sleep Paralysis and how it is really an ancient demon coming to choke you to death after an indeterminate amount of time. A psychologist tries to stop it, but mostly just bumbles around the plot until the typical new age horror ending happens. I also feel like a broken record even typing this again. Mara, like a lot of dull horrors, nowadays is too long. Seriously. It seems to be an epidemic of horror thrillers that are incapable of telling their story in 90 minutes or less. Now that doesn't mean I don't like a good long, slow burn horror. But the story has to be there for it to work. Mara, like many before it, goes on way too long. The meat and potatoes of this movie are cleaned off the plate by the 70-minute mark, and we are left sitting at the table while Aunt Susan talks about her cats for another 38 minutes before mom and dad allow us to go to our rooms and play. I know this seems like a rant, but I am truly looking forward to the less is more era of horror I hope is coming.
Oh, yeah, the rest of my review. Quickly, Mara is dark, dingy and dull. Well not terribly acted, the cast has little to do but make choked faces as they die, or yell at each other about demons and sleeping. This is an easy pass from me. You are better off watching something else.
If there was a hint at a good premise the terrible execution destroys it. Mara is another awful horror movie dependent on cheap scares and laughable visual effects instead of a solid plot line. Another problem is the sluggish pace that builds frustration rather than suspense. What a waste of time!
Overall, an interesting premise of sleep paralysis with a supernatural edge is underwhelming. The scares are easy to predict, the story can be choppy at times, and there seems to be an emphasis on the wrong aspects.
Mara (1 out of 5 stars). Mara is a horrible supernatural horror film that uses a good creepy concept idea that sounds like it works perfectly written on paper. But on film, it was flat out terrible with its execution. The plot follows psychologists Kate (Olga Kurylenko) investigating a murder; a mother was found in the same room with her dead husband. Thinking she may be insane. Kate dives deep into her investigation of sleep paralysis. And a demonic figure that haunts the person that is suffering from sleep paralysis. When time is running out when that lady is marked by a demonic figure known as Mara. It is only a matter of time before Mara hunts down Kate and the rest of the people that are marked by this demon. The plot left a lot of plot holes with this demonic figure of Mara. And the reasoning behind why she is haunting certain people cause of guilt. It just does not make much sense behind it. It tries to build that connection with people being involved. When Kate was learning about the steps to this curse from a psychotic person Dougie (Craig Conway). Learning you cannot sleep once you been marked by Mara. Kate connecting the facts that is bringing Mara to them was never fully resolved. The direction and script was horrible. Besides not having a full story making sense with the script. The direction was lacking the horror and suspense with the movie. Yes, the idea of sleep paralysis and some creepy figure crawling towards you while your sleeping sounds scary. But on film, it was dull and boring. The climatic moment with Kate fighting on staying awake, which almost felt like characters from A Nightmare on Elm Street. It just did not have that excitement. The performances were stale and terrible. Olga Kurylenko is a beautiful talented actress. Her performance was tedious. Craig Conway playing a psychotic character was just bad. Overall, Mara is a horrible movie. It does have not have any scares or thrills. May be laughable for its bad direction and over exaggerated performances. The plot is just filled with holes and not making any sense with the characters having guilt connection. This movie is definitely a pass.