Sleep paralysis is a scary thing, having had the sensation multiple times it really is a frightening experience. In Mara, sleep paralysis is caused by a sleep demon.
Kate Fuller (Kurylenko), a criminal psychologist is brought in on a case of a murdered man, seemingly strangled in his sleep by his wife. The wife claims a demon killed her husband. The only witness is their eight-year-old daughter, Sophie (Imsand). As Kate investigates the mystery, she comes across stories of an ancient demon which kills people in their sleep. She soon experiences the same symptoms as all previous victims…
The film has some interesting set pieces but for a film that has sleep paralysis as something to lean on it doesn’t have enough of these moments and it doesn’t make them something memorable when they do happen. The creepy moments are indeed creepy but once they are gone there is not a lasting impact, no lingering atmosphere left behind to have you dreading the next encounter. With the exception of the last few minutes the film doesn’t use what could be its greatest asset – the dreamscape.
The story as a whole is fine but there are some logic leaps and assumptions that don’t add up and it takes away from the film, however, the reasoning behind why the sleep demon visits people is very plausible. Characters come in and out of the film for… reasons, some characters get a huge chunk of screen time before vanishing into the ether of the this film’s world. There are a bunch of tropes in the film and trope character too – The hard boiled cop, crazy-guy-that-is-really-telling-truth, the well meaning doctor et al. The film really starts ramping up with about thirty minutes to go – which is normal – but the previous hour and a bit doesn’t have enough going for it.
The acting varies, all the actors have their moments totally nailing one scene and then sometimes they dip into melodrama or cliché for others. This is a result of the writing as it also varies, having some excellent moments and some not so great ones.
Mara has a some good stuff in it but you have to get through some pretty unengaging moments to get to them, which is a shame because the subject matter I scary and demons are scary too… unfortunately Mara just isn’t scary enough.
Mara is in theaters and available on VOD and Digital HD on September 7, 2018
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78