Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
Starring Gary Oldman, Emily Mortimer, Jennifer Esposito and a sailboat
Running time: 1 hour and 24 minutes
by Audrey Callerstrom
Early on in Mary, Lydia (Emily Mortimer) is hanging out with her husband, David (Gary Oldman), their two daughters and all their friends, celebrating David’s recent purchase of an old sailboat named Mary which he intends to use to start a charter boat business. Lydia is laughing with her family and drinking a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Later, as the family takes off on their trial voyage, Lydia has a disturbing dream. She wakes up and tells David. He makes a comment to the effect of, “Must be all those margaritas you had last night.” Wait, margaritas? When were there margaritas? And did she wake up in the middle of the night, or from a nap? Also, who cares? “Mary” seems to be written from an algorithm and edited by my toddler who occasionally comes over to my laptop and smashes the keys.
I’ve been in a horror movie. My role was very small; I had a few lines as the reporter that talks about teens getting their heads chopped off. I can’t say what this movie is called because I don’t think it will make it past the point of production. During the table read, I remember looking around at all the people eager to take part in the film. Some people sat for hours who, like me, only had a line or two. We were all compensated fairly, and the shoots and the wrap party were actually quite fun. The director was nice and between takes I chatted about all the movies I liked and talked to a young woman about victim blaming and how, yes, I do believe what Amber Heard says about Johnny Depp (it was 2016). However, I don’t think anyone will ever see the film.
I thought about this during Mary. The dialogue is nauseating (a teen boy tells his girlfriend that she’s “rockin’ that bikini” – you know, how teens talk), the plot is lazy, the attempts at scares are ham-fisted. For an R rating, I expected more than just a couple bad dreams and a small head gash. I’ve had showers where I’ve shaved my legs and seen more gore than there was in Mary. Mary follows nearly every single Horror Movie Trope, which I will list for you so you and your friends can watch it or a similar film, and play Horror Movie Trope Bingo: Scary Moment that Was Just a Dream, Offscreen Infidelity That Creates Tension, Little Kid Making Scary Drawings, Angsty Teen Daughter, Old Newspaper Clippings, No Cell Phone Signal, Man Won’t Believe Woman, Cop Won’t Believe Woman, Woman Refers to Children as “MY BABIES!” The ending is so abrupt and incomplete it’s laughable.
Which brings me back to the horror movie I was in that will probably never be seen. Why even release Mary? Can’t it just stay on the shelf and creep its way onto Amazon Prime? Was it made before Gary Oldman’s Oscar win?* What about a “haunted sailboat movie” appeals to anybody? Emily Mortimer, so good in Lovely and Amazing and Lars and the Real Girl, deserves better. Did she make this so that she could make The Bookshop, or maybe another movie with Nicole Holofcener (ooh!) Did you know that Emily Mortimer is married to Alessandro Nivola? And that they live in Brooklyn? And maybe you could see them sometime at the playground with their kids, wearing sunglasses, sipping coffee, talking about this dumb Mary movie she just wrapped on? All these questions and more are sufficiently more entertaining and interesting than anything in Mary.
*It was for “The Darkest Hour” where he plays Winston Churchill. If you knew this without looking at my footnote, good for you!
In theaters, on demand and digital HD on Friday, October 11.