The Marsh

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(2006, starring Gabrielle Anwar, Louis Ferreira, and Forest Whitaker)

The Marsh combines the well-worn “blocked writer rents immense creepy old house in the country for peace and quiet but the house is haunted” trope with some modern twists and film-making tricks that save it from being too predictable. The Marsh is only 90 minutes long, so the story doesn’t drag. Look away to check your Twitter timeline and you’ll miss something creepy. The producers relied heavily on the type of ghost effects we’ve come to expect in horror movies since the American remakes of Ju-on and Ring set new standards for scary. In fact, several scenes seem almost to have been lifted from The Ring, particularly the scene where Claire goes to Philip Manville’s farm to ask him what happened to his son.

The writer in The Marsh is a young woman, and she’s not an alcoholic novelist like male authors in similar movies usually are. She writes and illustrates children’s books. She also has terrifying partial memories that seem to come alive when she moves into the old house. The child ghost in the house looks like the main character in her book. She has two potential love interests. Typical to the formula, one becomes a suspect in the mystery she’s trying to solve. One is the editor of the local paper, the other is a cynical paranormal investigator, and the town is apparently entirely populated by eccentric locals. At times the story is almost too precious, but the rare female author character and the two men interested in her and/or the goings on at the house and the small town’s history keep the film interesting.

You’ll see shades of The Haunting in Connecticut and Stir of Echoes in The Marsh. It’s worth a first look (with the lights out, of course) for the jump-scares, and a second, closer viewing to fully understand the story.

 

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