James Cole Clay // Film Critic
MARROWBONE is the rare movie that opens up the viewing experience to a whole new perspective upon rewatching. This Spanish/English language production is a gothic story about the horrors of seclusion that come along with spending every waking moment with your family – a love that is so strong that it can drive you mad.
Sergio G. Sanchez makes his directorial after working as a screenwriter on his filmmaking parter J.A. Bayona’s films, such as THE ORPHANAGE and THE IMPOSSIBLE. While his inauspicious debut failed to find an audience, the story has a ton of heart and falls in line with Sanchez’s screenwriting work. There’s a horrifying tenderness at play that drags at times, but ultimately amounts to a supremely satisfying story that subverts all expectations.
Running from a haunting past, the Marrowbone family moved across the pond back to America where they shack up in their mother’s old abandoned family home. There, Jack (George MacKay), Jane (Mia Goth), Billy (Charlie Heaton) and little Sam (Matthew Stagg) try to make a life for themselves and hide from an unknown presence after their mother dies. Things start to get complicated when the eldest Jack develops feelings for Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy).
Sanchez and his actors find a commitment to their craft, especially MacKay who shows an intense focus to the burden that has been left upon him after his mother’s passing. This is the odd horror film that focuses on family first and scares second, because the scares don’t come from some lame conjuring (that’s not a shot at THE CONJURING) of a book, or an evil spirit who just wants to kill, but from a place of perverse love twisted to the point of hate.
While MARROWBONE isn’t a great film, it holds up as a daring piece of filmmaking that boasts one of the more haunting fates seen in the genre in recent memory.
Extras: There is a pretty amazing behind-the-scene documentary on the film where Sanchez, Bayona and the rest of the cast talk about the heart that went into making this film. For such a small release this has an excellent slate of features.
LIFE OF THE PARTY
Melissa McCarthy and Dwayne Johnson movies have a lot in common: They’re predictable and rarely come up with an original premise, but both actors know how to carry a film, no matter what story they’re in.
McCarthy’s latest, LIFE OF THE PARTY, takes on the “back to school” conceit that has plagued so many films over the years, which culminated with, of course, Rodney Dangerfield’s BACK TO SCHOOL. This buy-and-large title is a lame movie, but McCarthy is adorable in every sense of the word as DeAnna “Dee Rock” Miles – a woman who was just divorced by her doofus, mid-life crisis wielding husband (Matt Walsh) as their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) approaches her senior year of college. In search of a better life, DeAnna enrolls back in college, not to helicopter over her daughter, but to genuinely empower herself.
This film has an awesome message about reinventing yourself and changing with the tides of life, but boy, is McCarthy’s frequent collaborator and partner in life, Ben Falcone, lacking in the directing department. There’s nothing beneath the surface of this film, except a hollow shell of a film that could have said so much more outside of McCarthy’s obvious heart-warming talent. In closing, Maya Rudolph steals every, single, second she is on-screen.
Extras: This has the typical stuff you’d find on any comedy film Blu-ray. From deleted scenes, to gag reels, to a Line-O-Rama, which features the “best” ad-libs during filming.
Feature Photo: L-R: Mia GOth, Charlie Heaton and George McKay in ‘MARROWBONE.’ Courtesy of Magnet Releasing.