Movie review: Marianne

EUROPEAN horror is fast-becoming a better prospect for all things scary than the cliche-ridden dross being churned out by Hollywood.

From Spain ([Rec]) to France (Martyrs), you’ll be hard-pressed to find something that won’t appeal to your tastes.

Now it’s the turn of Swedish director Filip Tegstedt and his debut feature, Marianne.

A slow-burning psychological horror, it’s the tale of a grieving husband attempting to hold together his family while dealing with all-too-real nightmares.

Krister (Thomas Hedengran) is just coming to terms with the death of his wife Eva (Tintin Anderson) in a car crash. Whilst dealing with the aftermath of that life-changing incident, he also has to handle his wayward teenage daughter Sandra (Sandra Larsson) and new baby Linnea.

However, his task of recovering and keeping the family together is made more difficult by haunting memories of the past and the fact he is now being stalked at night by visions of a women in green – Swedish folklore describes such a being as a Mare.

Trying to find answers to what is going on he turns to psychologist Sven (Peter Stormare).

As Krister’s home life spirals out of his control, the nightmarish visions intensify leaving him on the brink of becoming a broken man. Are the visions real or just a reaction to the stress he finds himself under?

The most notable aspect of Marianne is the attention to detail with the characters. Hedengran is believable as a man on the edge. It’s hard not to sympathise with his situation. However, any sympathy is countered by actions earlier in his life that have led to a conflict with his older daughter, Sandra.

And what of newcomer Larsson? She is very impressive with a constant look of melancholy in her eyes. She has no respect for her father and is continually going against his wishes as a reaction to what she witnessed as a child.

The score also plays a major part in what goes on onscreen – and that’s testament to the work by composer Mikael Junehag. At times it’s disorienting and helps create an atmosphere of dread.

Possibly the only negative about Marianne is some of the flashback scenes which cut in quite abruptly leaving the viewer wondering what it is they are watching. This can be quite jarring in certain respects, but is a minor fault in a very impressive debut.

Director Tegstedt gets his character development spot on and his use of sound and visuals ensure viewers will be on the edge of their seats when it’s required. Blood and guts isn’t the order of the day for this smart horror – apart from one scene which comes out of left-field, but is impressive in maintaining the overall tone of the film without being gratuitous.

Add in a couple of nice twists and Marianne is an extremely accomplished debut that will get under the skin.

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