Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
Starring Gary Oldman, Emily Mortimer, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Stefanie Scott, Chloe Perrin, Owen Teague, Jennifer Esposito, Douglas Urbanski, Claire Byrne, Michael Landes, Natalie Jean, Griffin Hood, Kathryn Kelly, Teance Blackburn, Nicole Ciccarelli, Kenneth Herrington, John Leaptrott
When I first heard about MARY, I slapped my head at how genius the idea of a haunted boat is. Sure films like 2002’s GHOST SHIP and 1980’s DEATH SHIP exist and deal with similar material. But for some reason, the idea of being stuck on a haunted boat in the middle of the ocean seemed like a winning one. The film also sported a great cast with Gary Oldman and Emily Mortimer, two actors who never fail to give a good performance and whose mere appearance elevates the material. So I went into MARY with high hopes.
MARY focuses on a family, lead by David (Gary Oldman) and Sarah (Emily Mortimer), who dream of setting up their own charter boat business. Their first purchase is a fixer upper of a craft dubbed Mary and adorned with a masthead of a serene and creepy looking woman. After they make the boat sea-worthy, the family get together to take it for a test run. Almost immediately, strange things begin happing in and around the boat, resulting in dangerous accidents and death. Soon, the dark past of the boat rises to the surface and the family find themselves stranded in the middle of the ocean aboard a vessel that doesn’t want them on deck.
Part CHRISTINE, part THE CONJURING, MARY does what it can to make the audience jump and jolt. The film is filled with jump scares both with false frights and genuine shakers. Unfortunately, the scares that occur come from loud piano bangs and sudden movements from the darkness. These scares feel hollow and unearned. The film is basically a haunted house movie on the water. Instead of taking the fact this this haunting scenario takes place on the water and running in new and exciting areas with it, MARY feels as if it is doing a by-the-numbers haunted abode film that could be set on land, space, or on a sea of cheese. There is the danger of being tossed overboard or drowned that occurs and that is highlighted numerous times throughout the film, but for some reason, this one just didn’t strike fear in me.
Oldman and Mortimer try to make this film work. Mortimer seems to be trying a bit harder though, as Oldman sadly seems to be phoning it in. The nuanced characters the actor has given us in the past are nothing like the bland husband with dreams of being a sea captain Oldman gives us here. Most of the emotional heft is carried by Mortimer as she desperately tries to save her family.
With an abrupt ending and by the book scares, MARY seems to be a film with wasted potential. This blame I feel goes to the writing of the film as MARY just doesn’t take advantage enough of the horrors of the sea and instead simply does a haunted house in the ocean story that we’ve seen many, many times before. I wanted so much to like MARY, but in the end, the scares just didn’t keep it afloat.