Film (Re)View – The Secret of Marrowbone

Well, Scream Unseen certainly pulled out all the stops with this beautifully haunting tale about a family, driven into exile by a murderous and abusive father.

On arrival back to their mother’s childhood home in the USA, the Fairbairn family change their name to Marrowbone – their mother’s maiden name – in an effort to escape their horrific past. The siblings make friends with a young woman – Allie – who soon becomes part of the family and whom the eldest, Jack, falls in love with.

The joy and anticipation of a new start, however, is quickly shattered as their mother succumbs to illness and Jack is left to care for his brothers and sister in a world where, until he is 21 (several months away), the law will not allow him to do so.

The family remain hidden in the dilapidated house, with only Jack venturing out, until one day their world is, yet again, blown apart by the arrival of their father, who has somehow escaped prison in the UK and tracked them down.

The story then jumps forward several months and, although you are initially puzzled as to what happened with their father, the filmmakers soon draw you back in to the story of everyday family life as the siblings learn to make a living by selling cakes, that Jane has made, in the town. As Jack has yet to reach the age of 21, the fact that he is the only one who strays into the town is not unusual. What is unusual is that Allie is no longer allowed to visit the house and the remaining siblings – Jane, Sam and Billy – are forbidden from leaving it.

It is only when Jane appears suddenly at Jack’s ear while he is bathing, and he doesn’t flinch, that my mind started to go into overdrive as to what was actually going on. I knew that one of them wasn’t really there, but the skillful way in which the scene is put together, makes you unsure of quite which one it is.

As the movie progresses Jack’s health deteriorates and the siblings take it into their own hands to make contact with Allie and request her help, as she is the only one who can help Jack. How do they do it? By giving her a journal that Jack had been keeping, which tells the family’s story, and which Jane completed…or did she?

It is through Allie’s reading of the journal that we learn of the horrific crimes of their father and, more importantly, of what happened the day he appeared at their door. It is this revelation that creates the the ‘ah, of course’ moment, before the movie takes us on an emotional journey, as we discover the harrowing truth and the devastating consequences of that day.

The suspension of disbelief is a given with this movie, as it will resonate with anyone who has suffered a traumatic and heartbreaking loss. Well written, well made and extremely well acted, I cannot find fault with it – high praise in itself!

The Secret of Marrowbone is THE best supernatural film I have seen in a very long time and I would highly recommend it to everyone.

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