Monday, April 22, 2019

Honourable Mention: Mara

Mara is a 2018 movie directed by Clive Tonge and the reason for including it here is because the mara is a vampire type (related in this to the Hag, which I’ll come back to), According to Bane “The mara is created when a child dies before it could be baptized” and its modus operandi is “it finds sleeping men and, sitting upon their chests, crushes them to death by pressing down harder and harder.” This is similar to the hag but, according to Bane, the mara can also drink blood.

The hag, of course, has many regional varieties but we are talking about an energy vampire, tied to sleep paralysis and, like this, will sit on the victim’s chest – this film, like most sleep paralysis movies uses Fuseli’s the Nightmare within its length. The reason I held this to an Honourable Mention is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a vampiric element to this; supernatural, yes, murderous, definitely, but vampiric, no. As such the film is of genre interest only.

what's her name?
So it opens with an intertitle telling us how many people will suffer from sleep paralysis and how many tie said paralysis to a demonic being. We are then in the Wynesfield family home. Daughter Sophie (Mackenzie Imsand) awakens and is frightened, the closet is open. She steps out of bed and slowly makes her way to her parent’s room, quietly calling for her mommy. Eventually she reaches for the door handle but mom, Helena (Rosie Fellner), comes out but tells her not to look. Too late, she screams on seeing her father’s twisted corpse.

Olga Kurylenko as Kate
Elsewhere Kate (Olga Kurylenko, Paris Je t’aime & Vampire Academy) awakens and is jogging when she gets a call from the police department. She is a psychologist and this is her first call. She is called to the Wynesfield’s to make a call on whether they should commit Helena or whether she should go to jail. The police believe it to be an open and shut case.

Kate looking shocked
She is shown the corpse to start with and then Helena, who is not speaking. She goes to see Sophie, who is with her grandfather (Ted Johnson). Eventually she gets Sophie to say that daddy was killed by Mara. When she mentions the name to Helena, the woman starts screaming. Later, interviewing her, Helena admits that her husband had cheated on her with a student and wanted a divorce, something she had not been able to forgive (no reason given as to why they were still in the same bed), but claims he was killed by a demon called Mara (and in this the name is used as a proper name, not a genus). Kate has no choice but to have her committed.

She has doubts though and starts following up the events (much to the chagrin of the police). It is discovered that the demon is targeting a group of people from a sleep paralysis help group, as well as both Helena and Sophie and now Kate. It ends up being described as a four-stage persecution. First you have sleep paralysis and see her, then you become marked (a burst blood vessel in the eye, making a red mark), then she starts to strangle you and finally she starts appearing in the waking world – always ending in death. Kate has to work out why those targeted are destined to be her victims. Meanwhile sleep specialist Dr Ellis (Mitch Eakins) tries to convince her it is all psychological (running the idea that the sleeper gets the mythology they expect).

cctv footage
When we get down to it Mara turns out to be drawn to guilt. It is described that a disaster calls her (this gets a tad convoluted both as an idea and as it plays out in film) and then she progresses to stage 2 and onwards with sleepers who feel a strong guilt. As she just seems to kill them – strangulation is involved but at no time is it suggested that she feeds or gains sustenance through the attack – she is more like an extreme agent of karma. On camera she seems to be a blur, but she does appear when interacting with a victim.

There you have it… the mara a vampire type that loses her vampiric aspect in this but, nonetheless, is of genre interest.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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