MARA (2017) Reviews and overview


‘Don’t fall asleep’

Mara is a 2017 British supernatural horror feature film directed by Clive Tonge (shorts: Sunday Best; Emily and the Baba Yaga) from a screenplay by Jonathan Frank (The Tournament). The movie stars Olga Kurylenko, Javier Botet, Mitch Eakins, and Lance E. Nichols.


Criminal psychologist Kate Fuller is assigned to the murder of a man who has seemingly been strangled in his sleep by his wife and the only witness is their eight-year-old daughter, Sophie.

As Kate digs into the mystery of an ancient demon which kills people in their sleep, she experiences the same petrifying symptoms as all previous victims and spirals through a chilling nightmare to save herself and Sophie before she dares fall asleep again…


” …doesn’t have anything to show horror fans that we haven’t seen before, but it is a well made film that presents its familiar scenarios in a way that held my interest […] It moves along at a decent pace, the scare scenes are capably handled, cinematographer Emil Topuzov captured some nice imagery, and the special effects team provided a couple cool looking corpses.” Arrow in the Head

Mara isn’t scary, and Tonge has a hard time hiding the amateurish aspects of the production, finding performances difficult to believe (Kurylenko isn’t strong enough to carry a movie on her own), especially when hysteria sets in, leaving the actors to conjure body-quaking terror on their own, creating stiffness instead of madness.”

“Routine” doesn’t automatically equate to “bad.”  Neither does “forgettable.”  Aside from a squirm-worthy eyelid snipping that earns a thumbs up for standing out, Mara’s mediocrity merely prevents it from being memorable, even among its equally unimpressive peers in the sleep paralysis subgenre.” Culture Crypt

“Kurylenko’s dedication to her character pays off in kind, creating a professional who has not forgotten real-life emotion. Had Kurylenko over or under-acted, we might have a film that feels cheesy and completely unbelievable; a fantasy that we could never truly lose ourselves inside. Instead, Mara feels like a surreality, one that is engaging even if it does somewhat overstay its run time.” Cryptic Rock

“Kurylenko is fine in the film, almost too good for what the material calls for, and when you do get to see Mara in her full entirety, Botet’s motion-capture performance doesn’t disappoint. Everything else in the film, unfortunately, feels so utterly familiar and cliché that there’s hardly anything to truly recommend about the film…” Elements of Madness

“The plot meanders around the houses, delivering boilerplate scares with various borrowings from Nightmare on Elm Street and Paranormal Activity, and there are one or two strong moments: a gruesome scene when a seriously sleep-deprived Dougie has to take drastic action to stop his eyes from closing and also when Kate is being pursued down a brightly lit, apparently empty corridor. But really this is by-the-numbers stuff.” The Guardian

A by-the-numbers creepypasta picture, it has good sequences (Kate falling asleep on an eerily empty ferry) and decent (if familiar) monster design and shock effects.  Like Maggie Q, Kurylenko acquits herself well as a harassed brainy heroine…” The Kim Newman Web Site

“The whole movie becomes a predictable routine—scares in the night and back story during the day. Tonge provides some dark and chilly atmosphere to the nighttime proceedings, but that’s not nearly enough to elevate Mara above its tedious formula.” Mark Reviews Movies


“A range of effective performances underpin this throughout, with special mention to horror monster diehard Javier Botet and Kurylenko has just the right degree of vulnerability set against strength, a modern woman struggling to recast events in safe, predictable scientific language. Carefully paced and moving deliberately throughout, it captures sleep paralysis well, weaving elements of mythology around it and keeping us guessing.” Warped Perspective


In the USA, Mara was released by Saban Films in theaters and on VOD and digital HD on September 7, 2018.

Main cast and characters:

  • Olga Kurylenko … Kate Fuller – Vampire Academy 
  • Javier Botet … Mara
  • Mitch Eakins … Martin Ellis – Evil Bong and sequels
  • Lance E. Nichols … McCarthy
  • Rosie Fellner … Helena
  • Mackenzie Imsand … Sophie
  • Dandy Barrett … Doctor Botet
  • Craig Conway … Dougie
  • Melissa Bolona … Carly
  • Kathy McGraw … Alicia
  • Jacob Grodnik … Josh
  • BettyLynn Allison … Weird Old Lady
  • Montré Everett … Head Orderly
  • Gia Skova … Maria

Production companies:

• Moon River Studios
• Grodnik /Aloe Productions
• Aloe Entertainment (in association with)
• Digital Ignition Entertainment
• Mann Made Films
• Room 101
• Synchronicity Entertainment

Filming locations:

Savannah, Georgia

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