The Secret Of Marrowbone review: Continuing the Edinburgh Film Festival coverage here on the site, we turn to director Sergio G. Sánchez’s horror-drama. But is it a secret worth indulging into?

The Secret Of Marrowbone review by Awais Irfan.

The Secret Of Marrowbone review
The Secret Of Marrowbone review

After the passing of their mother, the Marrowbone kids – Jack (George Mackay); Jane (Mia Goth); Sam (Matthew Stagg) and Billy (Charlie Heaton) – keep themselves hidden away in their family mansion, keeping the death of their mother a secret from the authorities in order to stay together. However, when a sinister presence appears within the Marrowbone mansion to haunt the family, the siblings enlist the help of their neighbour Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy) to help them to rid themselves of this ghost and their troubled past as their dark secrets begin to spill amidst all the terror.

The Secret of Marrowbone is a film that starts off strong; the initial setup for the events to unfold is fantastically ambiguous and creepy and the premise and immediate intrigue both promise a great film ahead. Sadly though, the film quickly becomes a very tired, run of the mill genre piece that occasionally chills but never quite thrills. Given that something like Hereditary is so fresh in the minds of horror aficionados (a piece that is so different and audacious that it just worked!), you can’t help but want more from writer-director Sánchez’s debut given that it, similarly, could have been quite unique and terrifying. Instead, it becomes your paint-by-numbers, clichéd horror that is every so often creepy but never at all frightening due to the predictable myriad of tropes and conventions executed to try and scare the audience.

The Secret Of Marrowbone review
The Secret Of Marrowbone review

A plethora of great performances from the youngsters involved and their solid familial dynamic and camaraderie keep this story watchable and a better family drama than a supernatural horror; the use of the time is also great and the costume and set designs really bring the period-piece alive within Marrowbone. Anya Taylor-Joy and Charlie Heaton are particular standouts here, both enjoying very hot horror streaks in their careers thus far (the former, especially, having taken the title of “queen of horror” in the past couple of years) but it’s just a shame some drab writing and clunky horror direction don’t quite do them, nor the rest of the cast, the justice they and this story deserve – very under cooked in nearly all aspects.

Related: Hereditary review

The Secret of Marrowbone isn’t all bad; there is some good tension throughout and the final act brings about a couple of decent twists but, again, nothing too out of the ordinary. For the most part however, this remains a lifeless and fairly one-dimensional piece beyond the initial intrigue and seeming potential set up within the first 5-10 minutes.  The cinematography is often quite bland and colourless too and it’s perhaps a fair encapsulation of how equally drab a horror this ends up being. It’s a shame too because you really can tell this had some serious potential to come out swinging.

Occasionally chilling but never at all scary nor all that impressive and memorable in any other aspect beyond its premise, The Secret of Marrowbone is perhaps a secret best left unexplored.

The Secret Of Marrowbone review by Awais Irfan, June 2018.

The Secret Of Marrowbone was reviewed at the 2018 Edinburgh Film Festival.

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The Secret Of Marrowbone