Personally I hadn't read nor heard much about this direct-to-DVD release especially after it's release stateside earlier this year. Now this could have been for two reasons. Firstly, it may be a movie not worth talking about. Alternatively being a direct-to release it just may have been a secret horror gem tucked away on the shelves of your local rental store collecting dust for the past months. Well it seems Dead Mary is somewhere in between.
Dead Mary kicks off with our female lead, Dominique Swain. As she sits in a car on a quiet back road casually mooching around in the front passenger seat in almost Lolita-esque poses, we are drawn into the movie by the surrounding woodland noises in a strangely unsettling manner only enforced further with the slowly creep and fade credits. With the complete absence of music in the start-up scene I was quietly excited by the anticipation of the oncoming narrative.
Unfortunately the first third of the movie seems rooted in the introduction of a number of characters, their personalities and relationships with each other. Something that felt more dragged out than perhaps should have been.
Following a drunken round of truth or dare members of the group take it in turn to summon the spirit of 'Dead Mary' by chanting her name in the bathroom mirror (Isn't it just like Bloody Mary I hear you cry, and my feelings also echoed here through one of the characters asking the same question).
Suddenly Dead Mary takes an unusual route of bizarre paranoia based tensions and regenerative victims. I must admit I wasn't expecting it and was more preparing myself for the usual kids summon unwanted ghost story. But I do wonder if it would have worked better going down that development road and not rely so much on the 'possession' of so many dislikeable and unrelatable characters.
Some elements thrown together in this movie do make Dead Mary dead scary and quite unnerving. However, bringing them all together in 100 minutes of odd relationships and overly quick dark-edged character progression it does feel a little contrived. And the lack of proper conclusions and a suitable ending fail to truly rectify the movies objectives.
With what should have been an interesting mix of ghostly, undead and 'who to trust' scenarios Dead Mary comes across more as a strange blend of Cabin Fever meets Bodysnatchers cum Evil Dead. With an overly stretched out first third the movie soon becomes a tad farcical and with a strangely under-developed story (where's Ted?) delves into a pit of strange events that never justly concludes the tale.