The idea of sleep paralysis is one that is terrifying on its own, but add into that a demon which is tormenting you in a paralyzed state to eventually kill you, now that is just horrifying. This is the concept behind director Clive Tonge’s Mara, a sleep demon who feeds on people’s guilt and it turns out seems to only strike after a huge tragedy.
The film follows Dr. Kate Fuller – played by Olga Kurylenko – a psychologist who is consulting with the police on a baffling case, in which a dead man’s wife insists her husband was killed by a demon from folklore: a “night hag” named Mara, who sits on her victims’ chests until they asphyxiated.
As any person of sound mind would, Dr Fuller has Helena (Rosie Fellner) committed to a psychiatric hospital and the series of events start to unravel as the doctor gets further and further into the case. The deeper Kurylenko’s character goes into the investigation she ends up being submerged into a culture of people who have been haunted by this monster, until she herself starts to suffer from sleep paralysis.
It is here where the doctor encounters Dougie (Craig Conway, delivering an entertainingly wild man performance) who really reveals the extent of Mara’s powers and how those the demon is targeting are all “marked” and go through different stages of interaction with the demon. From here where things start to ramp up a bit and it is Dr. Fuller’s interactions with Mara that do generate some good scares – the scene where she is frozen in the bath and the demon appears behind the shower curtain is a particular stand out scene.
However, as things start to reach their crescendo, the film seems to fall away and runs out of steam a little bit. The idea of a detective thriller mixed with horror seems like a great idea on paper, but some of the execution in Mara gets a little mixed up on what this film wants to be.
Kurylenko and Conway in particular deliver very good performances in front of the camera, which keep the viewer interested, but Javier Botet, who has the genetic disorder Marfan syndrome portrays the demon and the creepy figure aspect of the film feels like a bit of a tired trope.
On paper this film seems like to can deliver a really interesting concept to the horror genre, but in reality the execution is lacking a little, but great individual performances keep you invested until the end.
Dir: Clive Tonge
Scr: Jonathan Frank
Cast: Olga Kurylenko, Craig Conway, Javier Botet, Rosie Fellner, Mackenzie Imsand, Ted Johnson
Prd: Mary Aloe, James Edward Barker, Craig Chapman, Daniel Grodnik, Scott Mann, Myles Nestel, Steven Schneider
Runtime: 98 minutes
Signature Entertainment presents Mara on Amazon Prime August 14th