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Dead Mary
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Dead Mary (2007)

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Plot Summary:
"For Kim (Dominique Swain) it was supposed to be the perfect reunion and weekend getaway. She and her best friends drive to a remote lakeside cabin to reminisce about their college days. When the group decides to play the ghoulish game "Dead Mary" they mistakenly unleash a vengeful spirit that possesses them one by one. As the demon forces them to turn on one another, each is faced with a choice. Would you hack your best friend to pieces to ensure your own survival? Well...would you?"

Review by
Phil Davies Brown
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Review Date: 07 August 2008 My Rating: out of 5


Dominique Swain stars in this odd horror movie, which manages to hold your attention despite not much actually happening for a very long time.

The premise sees a group of old friends reunited for a weekend get together at a secluded cabin. The group plays catch up and reminisce as it becomes apparent that life has gotten in the way of their relationships. This leads to a series of revelations where we learn that full-time jobs, studying and living in other Cities has led to a number of the group turning to others for comfort. During one of the less confrontational catch up sessions, the gang decides to play Dead Mary, whereby each person takes a turn to go into the darkened bathroom with a candle and say the titular words three times, in the hopes of disproving that Dead Mary will appear in the mirror. When one of the group, Matt takes his turn however, it appears as though a few eerie moments in the bathroom has actually been a lot longer and this is when things start to get spooky, as it appears Dead Mary is on the loose and knocking off the friends one by one by inhabiting the body of one of the young adults. Tensions flare further as no one knows whom to trust.

The film is incredibly well shot with gorgeous establishing shots making a non-event creepy, yet beautiful at the same time and this rings true throughout. The cast members are all likeable and do good jobs at making what could essentially have been walking stereotypes (slut, jock, stoner, sex-fiend, bookworm, doormat etc) normal people with character traits. The movie also benefits from great effects work, a real uneasy vibe, good editing and sound work.

Where it fails is in itís pacing, the film is on for well over half an hour before there is even so much as a hint that this could be a horror movie.

Dead Mary could actually be viewed as an unofficial remake of The Evil Dead and the comparisons to that film, as well as Cabin Fever are inevitable. However, it lacks the main ingredient of each of these previous films - originality.

Reviewer: Steven Davies @braindeadsteve
Location:Luton, UK
Review Date: 09 November 2007 My Rating: out of 5

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.

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