“Mara” was directed by Clive Tonge in his directorial debut. The film was written by Johnathon Frank who based on the conditions and mythology on both sleep paralysis and Brugada syndrome, a genetic disorder in which electrical activity in the heart is abnormal. The film stars Olga Kurylenko, Craig Conway, Rosie Fellner, Lance E. Nichols and Mitch Eakins.
After a man is mysteriously killed in his sleep, Detective McCarthy (Nichlos) believes his wife, Helena (Fellner) did it. Criminal psychologist, Kate Fuller (Kurylenko) is called in to investigate as well. She discovers from their daughter than a mysterious entity killed her father, not her mother. Even though Helena told her the truth and provides bits of evidence, it isn’t enough to stop her from being committed to a psychiatric hospital to the despair of her daughter and the guilt of Kate. The police believe that another man, Dougie (Conway) is also involved. Dougie and Helena’s husband were apart of this group who suffer from sleep paralysis. However, Dougie believes that a supernatural entity known as “Mara” killed him. But Dr. Ellis (Eakins) believes a more scientific explanation would justify his death. As Kate further investigates, she picks up on other who encountered “Mara” and traces their deaths back only realized that Kate herself is Mara’s next target. With time running out and sleep out of the question, Kate must figure out stop Mara not only killing her but killing others as well. But how do you stop a sleep demon if your paralyzed?
This film kind of flew under the radar and landed on Netflix. Its not all that great but does have a few bright spots, one of them being the strong performance from Olga Kurylenko. Her performance is good and carries the movie. The idea of sleep paralysis being used as a gateway for a monster is solid but has a lot of similarities to the “Nightmare on Elm Street” formula. The character design of “Mara” reminded me of monster from “Lights Out”. The film is a run of the mill psychological thriller with a solid lead performance and B+ storytelling. Where it falls apart is the bland plot and mediocre monster design. Like I said, we’ve seen this before. The idea of science vs. supernatural is clever but here it was just poorly executed.
Overall, this film is a generic one that fits in with all the others on any streaming platform. When take an interesting concept and use cliche storytelling, the final product suffers like “The Purge” or “Prometheus” but sometimes it can work like “Lights Out” or “Sinister”. “Mara” however, ultimately suffered from poor execution and mediocre storytelling.