A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mary is a horror movie about a family on a haunted sailboat. It's quite violent, with blood splatters, bloody wounds, and death. Characters fight and attack other characters with knives or crossbows, and characters are tied up or thrown overboard. There's also some scary stuff and nightmare sequences, plus guns and an explosion. Teens kiss, a teen girl wears a skimpy bikini, and there's a spoken reference to marital infidelity. Language includes infrequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. Adults drink during a scene of celebration, and there's a reference to someone being hung over. Despite the talented cast (including Gary Oldman and Emily Mortimer), the movie is poorly made, clunky, and dull.
What's the story?
In MARY, David (Gary Oldman) works for a local businessman running fishing boats for tourists. While attending an auction, David is drawn to an old sailboat, which was found floating, empty, on the high seas. He buys it, much to the chagrin of his wife, Sarah (Emily Mortimer), and starts fixing it up, excited by the prospect of being his own captain. Once the boat is christened, they head out for a test run with their daughters, teen Lindsey (Stefanie Scott) and little Mary (Chloe Perrin), who's thrilled that the boat is also called "Mary." But before long, something evil that's been lurking on the boat begins to make itself known.
Is it any good?
Despite the acting talent involved, this waterlogged haunted-boat horror movie feels like a bunch of odd, used pieces strung together. Cinematographer/director Michael Goi, who's mainly a veteran of television (Scream Queens, American Horror Story), either seems to have lost control of Mary, or else the screenplay by Anthony Jaswinski (The Shallows, Satanic) never had much in it to begin with. Certainly the idea of a haunted boat movie is appealing, because, as one character says, there's nowhere to run. But this is just clunky and dull.
The haunted ship idea isn't used for more than silly "nightmare" sequences or to supply characters who are seemingly possessed and acting weird. There's nothing imaginative here and certainly nothing very scary. Worse, the characters are pencil-sketch thin, with very little indication as to what makes them tick. It's difficult to care about them. Perhaps most shocking is that Mary manages to make Oldman -- a Best Actor Oscar winner for Darkest Hour -- look bad. His line readings are wooden and hesitant, as if he's either bored, confused, or both. In that, he's certainly not alone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Mary's violence. How graphic is it? What's shown and not shown? How did it affect you? How did the filmmakers achieve that effect?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
The movie argues that evil has to have a body to live in. Do you think this is true? Are good and evil real? Can one exist without the other?
- In theaters: October 11, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: November 26, 2019
- Cast: Gary Oldman, Emily Mortimer, Stefanie Scott
- Director: Michael Goi
- Studio: RLJE Films
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some terror, violence, and language
- Last updated: November 25, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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