Before you ask yourself, “wait, there’s another Olsen sister who acts?” know that yes there is, and yes, she is phenomenal as a paranoid and mentally damaged woman from a former cult in first-time director Sean Durkin’s ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene.’
The film tells the story of Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), a young woman who seeks retreat from her small cult by spending a few weeks with her estranged sister and her husband on a lakeside manor in Connecticut. The film, which cuts between Martha’s initiation and time spent in a small rural cult, to her present struggles with her sister, as Martha battles painful memories from her previous home.
Although the backbone of the film are the strong performances by Olsen and her sadistic cult leader, played by John Hawkes, there is also much praise that should be given towards the screenplay. The dynamics in which Durkin’s script are able to parallel Martha’s time spent with the cult to her present day paranoia is very well done. However, the film seems to be building upon a big climax, but seemingly never gets there, and by the end it leaves the viewer with a few more questions that should’ve been touched upon. Although the ending of the film isn’t as strong as the rest of it, this is still a great film, which should be seen by lovers of independent cinema as well as those who enjoy a good psychological drama.
I give ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’
3 ½ out of 5 Scorsese’s
Aside from the praise I give this franchise for starting out with a groundbreaking first film, which was made on a shoe-string budget, it’s already in my good graces because it’s my favorite genre of horror: the psychological thriller.
Now, this third film in the franchise is a prequel to the first two films, taking place almost two decades before them. Shot in a way to mimic pro-grade camcorders from the 1980’s, viewers aren’t given the crisp HD picture or the nice resolution of a home security camera in which we saw in the first two films. However, this turned out to be one of the thing’s that was most enjoyable about the flick. The grainy texture from the mock-video tapes that the events of the movie were shot on adds an element of realism and helps boost some of the tense and scary scenes.
Another thing that was done well was the overall simplicity; it took some of the main elements from a good psychological thriller and weaved them in to fit with their plot. Now a lot of people across the interwebs are griping about the big climax and the last 20 minutes of the film. And it’s understandable how it could be a love it or hate it ending, but for what it’s worth, the last 20 or so minutes are by far the scariest in all of the first 3 films.
If you haven’t seen Paranormal Activity or Paranormal Activity 2, you won’t be completely lost, as ‘3’ works as a nicely plotted horror flick, but if you have seen the first two, it will leave you with less questions at the end, and works as a great tie in for this initial trilogy. However, with the way this film ends, and the fact that this franchise will continue to rake in money, I don’t see this being the end to Paranormal Activity.
Here’s to hoping they can pull it off a few more times.
I give Paranormal Activity 3
3 out of 5 Scorsese’s