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MARCUS
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Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton

Directed by: Rich Robinson and Bob Hardison

Starring:
Ross Kurt
Marc Rose
Scoot McNairy

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A group of friends and family cross paths during Christmas at the home of youngest sister Brooke, who is suspiciously nowhere to be seen. In her place is Marcus (Ross Kurt), a man who claims to be Brookeís boyfriend and who everyone finds to be a huge creep. And itís for good reason: Marcus has bloodied Brooke up and left her in a heap in the bath tub, and has more devious plans for the survivors.
Is it good movie?
MARCUS opens with the potential for something dark and interesting, but instead itís a complete mess, burdened with huge gaps in logic and acting that screams bad soap opera melodrama. The movie strives for something like Hitchcock, but the slow, deliberate ďtension-buildingĒ moments donít actually build any tension.

Marcus is played by Ross Kurt, in a performance so over-the-top I had a hard time watching. Kurt is trying REALLY hard to be evil, but his robotic delivery is more silly than sinister. I never got a clear sense of what was driving Marcus to commit his twisted crimes, at least never beyond the basic motive given in the movie - which just isnít enough to flesh him out . Trying to match Kurt with another performance pitched in completely the wrong key is Marc Rose as Roger, Brookeís estranged brother. Iím not sure whether to fault co-directors Rich Robinson and Bob Hardison for giving poor direction to their actors, but any scene with these two falls flat. Rose does have one of the few strong acting moments in the film, at the very end.

There are too many things that seemed ďoffĒ about MARCUS. It takes until about the halfway mark for someone to finally say aloud that Marcus maybe isnít who he says he is, something I would expect any human being with a shred of common sense to suspect from the minute they met this fucking wacko. Marcus is obnoxious and threatening to a point where you wonder why the hell the other people continue to stick around. Cheerful party, hey?

When the movie finally plays all its cards, thereís only a matter of minutes left for a proper ďrampageĒ (if you could call it that), and some final not-so-shocking revelations. Weird maybe, but the structure reminded of Richard Linklaterís TAPE in a few ways, with a handful of characters confined to one setting and secrets being spilled as the night goes on. But MARCUS is not the dark psychological journey it wants to be. How can it be, with characters this bland and little progression of the actual story? Ok, itís obviously the intention of the filmmakers to make these people so utterly shallow, but you still have to make them interesting in some way, shape or form.

Robinson and Hardison do a decent job behind the camera, giving MARCUS a rough handheld look that does suit the film well. Thereís one great moment of gore. Mostly, itís a failed experiment in psychological mind games.
Video / Audio
Video 4:3 Full Frame Presentation

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Stereo 5.1
The Extras
Commentary with producer/editor Jonathan Ruggiero, writer/directors Bob Hardison and Rich Robinson and special effects makeup artist Christal S. Kwiatkowski, recorded at the Boston Underground Film Festival.

Building Brooke is a short but cool featurette on how makeup artist Kwiatkowski made a mock-up dummy of actress Frankie Ingrassia, upper body cast and all. Itís really excellent work for a low-budget film, which I didnít initially notice because the movie features it for only a fraction of a second. Shame.

12 Days of Christmas: The Making of Marcus - The cast and crew discuss the movie. Pretty standard.

Theatrical Trailer also
Last Call
MARCUS doesnít get anywhere with its psychological horror vibe, and any interest in the story is drowned out by some extremely shoddy acting. All the pieces are there for a good little thriller. It seems nobody finished the puzzle.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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