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With: Gary Oldman, Emily Mortimer, Chloe Perrin, Stefanie Scott, Jennifer Esposito, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Written by: Anthony Jaswinski
Directed by: Michael Goi
MPAA Rating: R for some terror, violence, and language
Running Time: 84
Date: 10/11/2019

Mary (2019)

1 Star (out of 4)

Missed the Boat

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite the acting talent involved, this waterlogged haunted-boat horror movie feels like a bunch of odd, used pieces strung together, without any chance at real characters emerging, or anything else.

In Mary, David (Gary Oldman) works for a local businessman, running fishing boats for tourists; while attending an auction, he becomes drawn to an old sailboat, which was found floating, empty, on the high seas. He buys it, much to the chagrin of his wife Sarah (Emily Mortimer), and begins fixing it up, excited by the prospect of being his own captain.

The boat christened, they head out for a test run, with their daughters, teen Lindsey (Stefanie Scott) and little Mary (Chloe Perrin), who is thrilled that the boat is also called "Mary." Before long, however, something evil that has been lurking on the boat begins to make itself known.

Cinematographer and director Michael Goi, mainly a veteran of television (American Horror Story), either seems to have lost control of Mary, or else the screenplay by Anthony Jaswinski (The Shallows, Satanic) never had much in it to begin with. Certainly the idea of a haunted boat movie is appealing, because, as one character asserts, there's nowhere to run. But this is just clunky and dull.

The haunted ship idea isn't used for more than silly "nightmare" sequences, and characters that are seemingly possessed and acting weird. There's nothing imaginative here, and certainly nothing very scary. Worse, the characters are pencil-sketch thin, with very little indication as to what makes them tick. It's difficult to care about them.

Perhaps most shocking is that Mary manages to make Gary Oldman — one of the greatest actors alive and a Best Actor Oscar winner for Darkest Hour — look bad. His line readings are wooden and hesitant, as if he were either bored or confused, or both. In that, he's certainly not alone.

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