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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Secret of Marrowbone


Starring: George McKay, Mia Goth and Charlie Heaton
Distributor: EOne
Certificate: 15
Release Date 19 November 2018

Escaping from some unspoken tragedy, Jack, his mother, sister and two brothers have arrived at their mother's home, Marrowbone. Taking the name of the place they keep themselves apart from the nearby town, until one day Jack and his family meet, Allie...

The Secret of Marrowbone (2017. 1 hr, 46 min, 03 sec) is a Spanish psychological horror tale, written and directed by Sergio G. Sánchez.

At first, we are not told what drove this English family back to the mother’s ancestral home. We see Jack (George MacKay), Billy (Charlie Heaton), Sam (Matthew Stagg), Jane (Mia Goth) and their mother (Nicola Harrison) sharing one idyllic summer with Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy). While this is set in the nineteen sixties the look is more Edwardian and the colour palette reflects the joy that all are sharing.

Their happiness is cut short when their mother apparently dies, though we do not know of what, nor does it explain some of the items Sam finds in her room. On her deathbed she makes Jack promise to keep her death a secret until he is twenty-one, at which point he can inherit the house. The children swear an oath to always stick together as one and retreat even further from the town. That is until one day, while reading a book, Jane realises that someone had shot through her window. Below her a man with a rifle waves to her. We cut to six months later.

Whatever we have missed, is left unexplained. There is no doubt that things remain strained in the house, especially as there is a lawyer dealing with the estate who needs to see their mother. A signature is needed to make the house hers. Being dead this poses a problem for the children and opens a series of events which pulls apart the fabric of their lives.

To go any further with the plot would spoil the ending. Enough to say there is a growing romance between Jack and Allie, which is genuinely touching. There is the growing threat from the lawyer, played by Kyle Soller, who provides a believable villain. Lastly are the strange events in the house, like why are all the mirrors either covered up or removed and are the noises in the house really a ghost?

It’s fair to say the twist in the end of the film has been done before, but that didn’t bother me as the film was well put together with great performances from the ensemble cast. I swear there was one point where the audience and Allie discover the truth that I felt myself welling up. There are not many films which can touch me like that. Likewise, I thought that both the direction from Sánchez and cinematography from Xavi Giménez very good. In case all this Spanish being thrown around makes you think that this is a foreign film, it is only in those involved, the film is in English.

The DVD comes with a few extras. There are a little over twenty-seven minutes of deleted/unedited scenes and a VFX reel (1 min, 35 sec) this part of the industry has become so proficient that it never occurred to me that many of the locations were computer generated.

I could name several films which are either similar, or have covered the same ground, but, taken on its own merits I thought this was certainly a film worth checking out.


Charles Packer

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