Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Director Jordan Baker’s ‘The Marsh’ is one slickly shot, high quality, high production value laden mediocre bore.  And that’s pretty much all I have to say about this picture.  However, as I sit here in my cubicle poking needles in my toes, I will gallantly attempt to squeeze at least 700 words of worthwhile witty reading out of my depleted brain.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to say anything of any value about mediocrity?  Damned difficult I tell you.

Meet Claire Holloway (Gabrielle Anwar), a successful writer and illustrator of children’s books who writes books that probably only the most disturbed of children should read.  Claire is suffering from increasingly realistic, and increasing violent dream visions and doctors have absolutely no cure for them.  The upside to this is that Claire bases most of her children’s books on these horrific visions, so at least her mental problems are getting her stupid paid.  In a chance occurrence that happens only in movies, Claire observes the house from one of her visions on a news story about the decaying marshes of some small town or another and she decides that it’s time to face these demons and find out what the hell is going on.

Well, Claire travels on down to this house and rents it from the extremely skittish Mercy O’Shea (Brooke Johnson), who seems afraid of Claire for some reason and who informs us that the house hasn’t been occupied in well over twenty years.  On night one, weird things start happening in the house with a freaky wet girl and a deteriorating teenaged boy making sudden appearances.  Me, I’m out of there, but Claire has got to get to the ‘truth’.  Things get a little stranger for Claire as she instantly recognizes the yokel owner of the little grocery store as he has popped up in her nightmares as well, only as a younger man.  She also makes the acquaintance of

the charming publisher of the towns little newspaper, Noah (Justin Louis), who tells Claire of a young man and his little sister from 1918 who previously lived in the house and sadly died in the nearby marsh, but Noah seems to be holding something back as well.  It’s only when she’s able to hook up with paranormal investigator Geoffrey Hunt (Academy Award winner Forest Whittaker) is Claire able to pull away the rotten layers of the town’s dirty little secrets and figure out what the hell it’s all got do with her.

It would appear, again, that Hollywood is attempting to go Japanese on us, and not doing it terribly effectively.  The basic elements are present with a freaky wet dead child with stringy hair, materializing dead people, and the prerequisite attractive female lead, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work all that well.  One of the problems with ‘The Marsh’ is that it just starts out so slow and ploddingly, that even staying awake is a bit of a challenge.  Now I don’t know how the Japanese horror mavens pulls this off, because their films tend to start off slow too, but their finished product is invariably better than what we’ve been able to produce as of yet.

Once things finally get rolling, the movie improves a little bit, but it’s still the standard of things running across the camera while one’s back is turned, that weird whispery speaky sound that filmmakers of this genre love to use, and typical bumps and surprises that really don’t too much to frighten.  And why do characters in these movies behave the way they do?  When our grocery store owner sees a dead little girl, covered in mud, wearing galoshes, with stringy, dirty hair covering her face, why doesn’t he just vacate the joint?  No, he has to stand there and look stupid and die.  Personally, I only need to see one freaky dead kid to bolt.  Yeah, she may get me later on, but she ain’t getting me today.

There was nothing particularly special or earth shattering about the performances, as Ms Anwar and Mr. Whittaker handled their roles as well as they could given the standard fare they were handed.  There was no sex or gore in this particular film, and other than the fact it looked great and was a very polished film, there was nothing in ‘The Marsh’ which separates it from any of the other litany of mediocre horror films out there.

Neither bad nor good, ‘The Marsh’ suffers from the sin of simply being there.  There are occasions when bad is okay.  It will at least give you something to talk about.

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