Mara [2018]: In his supernaturally-charged psychological thriller, director Clive Tonge centers his story on the case of a psychologist named Kate Fuller (Olga Kurylenko) who is involved in an investigation where a mother is guilty of killing her husband in his sleep. During the interview, the suspect claims that her husband was killed by a sleep demon known as Mara, with her young daughter witnessing the creature too. As strange events begin to occur around her and more witnesses claim to be haunted by the entity, Kate must discover the truth before more deaths occur in a chain of nightmarish killings.

Night Terrors: The film takes much of its plot inspiration from a real condition known as sleep paralysis, where those experiencing it are caught in a state between being awake and asleep. Characteristics of sleep paralysis include being conscious but unable to move or speak, a sense of choking or pressure on the chest, feelings of nervousness or dread, and experiencing hallucinations. The film does a fair enough job of keeping the audience engaged in the suspenseful mystery surrounding Mara, especially when it comes time for her to pursue her victims in slow, nerve-wracking sequences that depict her lurking towards them in their beds. While the acting is at times subpar and a bit melodramatic (even in the context of a horror film), the basic plot structure is simple to follow without too much awkward sidetracking.

Monster in the Closet: The titular sleep demon, Mara, is played by Spanish actor Javier Botet, who was born with Marfan syndrome: a genetic disorder of the connective tissue that causes the fingers and limbs to become elongated. Botet brings a sense of authenticity and tangible terror to the screen with his body language as he played Mara. It is indicated in the film that Mara is an evil entity that has even existed long before Biblical history, yet her origins are left as much of a mystery as they were at the beginning of the film. The sleep demon’s appearance is nothing particularly special with the long dark hair and a paled, emaciated body, but the foreshadowing of her appearances illicit genuine discomfort from viewers because of the unpredictability of her actions.

Not quite a snooze-fest or an absolute dream come true, Mara stands as one of those scary movies that are still enjoyable to watch before a good night’s rest.

Watch Mara via Amazon or iTunes

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