Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
Rich Robinson and Bob Hardison
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 Brooke’s boyfriend and who everyone finds to be a huge creep. And it’s 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 it’s 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 “tension-building” moments don’t 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 isn’t enough to flesh him out . Trying to match Kurt with another performance pitched in completely the wrong key is Marc Rose as Roger, Brooke’s estranged brother. I’m 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 “off” about MARCUS. It takes until about the halfway mark for someone to finally say aloud that Marcus maybe isn’t 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, there’s only a matter of minutes left for a proper “rampage” (if you could call it that), and some final not-so-shocking revelations. Weird maybe, but the structure reminded of Richard Linklater’s 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, it’s 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. There’s one great moment of gore. Mostly, it’s 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
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. It’s really excellent work for a low-budget film, which I didn’t 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
MARCUS doesn’t 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.