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The Marsh (2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Jordan Barker

Starring:
Gabrielle Anwar/Claire
Justin Louis/Noah
Forest Whitaker/Geoffrey
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A popular children’s book writer (Anwar), who happens to be a hottie, is plagued by bad dreams of a spooky house, a little girl and a violent crime. She eventually finds that house and moves in to see what the dealio is. She soon finds out that restless ghosts are the dealio and Forest Whitaker is the cure.
THE LOWDOWN
I had never heard of the Canadian made THE MARSH and knew absolutely nothing about it when I drunkenly stumbled into the screening room. So why did I go? A bottle of JD helped and finer than wine Gabrielle Anwar starring in it did too. That’s why! I’ve had a thing for Anwar since I saw her fight alien pods in Body Snatchers. Although shaky in terms of narrative structure, I’m happy I marched to this MARSH (Wow…did I just write that…damn JD…I SUCK!)

THE MARSH was a got me, lost me, got me again type of deal. Its initial premise spelled promise for what was to come. With a good “story kick start”, visceral imagery galore, spooky sound design and a tinge of “Nightmare on Elm Street” like sinister vibe tossed in there for good measure, I was immediately swayed by its first 25 minutes. The film’s incredible special effects (wait till you see the shape shifting room...CG was flawless!), zany editing and kinetic visual style made sure to keep me in the game as well.  

Then the story started to unravel and that’s when it got a tad shoddy. Too many convenient coincidences (plot & character wise) or/and trivial character moves to serve the plot surfaced and I didn’t buy them at all! The “Why isn’t she leaving the house already?" question popped up as well at some point! I mean what she saw in that pad made Poltergeist look like a freaking cakewalk. I would’ve been out there like that…no you don’t get it…I mean…LIKE THAT! But yet she stayed. Sadly, there was nothing in the writing  Anwar’s low-key performance that convinced me that she wanted or should’ve stayed. By result, the cinematic cancer that is redundancy eventually kicked in, with way too many ghost mishaps going down, Anwar doing nothing and leading nowhere. And then it happened.

The criminally underrated Forest Whitaker kicked in and boosted the film’s quality up with his charm and uber credible/natural acting. The plot started to go places again, setting itself up real nice for its conclusion. And finally the uppercut came. Just when I though the film would dwindle down to the realm of below average, it delivered a powerhouse last block that not only double downed on the visual effects, suspense and creepiness but that also revealed a very nifty twist that I didn’t see coming at all. To be honest, I was actually touched by the cap-off and there was one tear in the corner of my left eye begging to drip down (yes I ‘m a bitch). For a film that semi lost me during its middle section, it did something VERY right with its end 20 minutes or so.

Marching out of THE MARSH, I was a content filmgoer! Yes the film would’ve benefited of a good script polish but on the whole, the chilling images, the decent acting, the potent scares and the bits that worked (like that ending) made it worth a watch. Marsh this Marsh up your Marsh and Marsh me later!
GORE
We get some disturbing imagery (i.e. messed up ghosts) and some random blood shed. Not a gore fest but efficient nonetheless.
ACTING
Gabrielle Anwar underplayed it a pinch too much in places but on the whole she hit the right notes and brought the proper amount of intensity to the role. Forest Whitaker reminded me of what a great actor he is. Incredibly natural and likeable! We need him in higher profiles films again! Canuck Justin Louis (Noah) was solid as the local with a couple of secrets of his own.
T & A
Anwar didn’t show us her Anwars or her heart shaped Anwar. Bummer!
DIRECTING
Glass of champagne and high-class hookers to director Jordan Barker. Not only did he deliver the scares in high doses but he also often made the film’s weaker narrative points go down smoother due to his arresting, back handing, tension laced and dark visuals. Great looking film!
SOUNDTRACK
We get a depressing score and some really gnarly use of sound to up the creepy factor. Loved it!
BOTTOM LINE
With a better and smoother script, THE MARSH could’ve been something really special cause apart from that it was all there and in Spades (or was it Clubs)! Good acting, persuasive storyline, spiking jolts, oppressive suspense and wild shots/ gloomy imagery that blew my tank-top clean off! This one is worth a rental, especially for the horror loving, audio/visual junkies of the world.
BULL'S EYE
Was shot in Toronto, Canada
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