Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Year Released: 2021
Runtime: 1h 52m
Director(s): Elbert van Strien
Writer(s): Ben Hopkins, Elbert van Strien
Cast: Thekla Reuten, Elijah Wolf, Emun Elliott, Sam Hazeldine
Where To Watch: Streaming now, visit www.thehorrorcollective.com for more information
RAVING REVIEW: In the film MARIONETTE, Dutch director Elbert van Strien introduces us to a child psychologist embarking on a new career in a remote Scottish village. Her patient, a shy yet mysterious boy, asserts he can uniquely manipulate people's destinies. Initially, the boy's claim seems like the product of a troubled mind, but the plot soon thickens into a dangerous game that challenges the therapist's fragile psyche.
This film was inspired by Van Strien's 1993 short film, The Marionette World; his acute eye for detail crafts a multifaceted cinematic journey that will challenge you. The film's solid performances by Thekla Reuten and Elijah Wolf elevate it even while the pacing isn’t consistent. The almost two-hour runtime demands unwavering attention from the audience, particularly during the 2nd act, to appreciate its full scope. If you miss some moments, it can change the entire feeling of the film.
MARIONETTE is a daring venture, as Van Strien skillfully mixes various genres from creepy children, asylum physicians, and twists set against this eerie and foreboding Scottish landscape. Despite some clichéd moments, the acting manages to save any struggles that the larger narrative may have.
Exploring more intricate themes like fate, destiny, and the supernatural, the film's young protagonist, Manny (Elijah Wolf,) is fascinating and unsettling, thanks to his eerie drawing style and mysterious presence. Although MARIONETTE's structure could use some fine-tuning – it takes time to gain momentum and, in doing so, presents a surfeit of twist towards the end – Van Strien delivers a psychological thriller that effectively keeps the audience questioning their understanding of reality.
The film's neo-Gothic visual style showcases impressive artistry from all involved. The primary location, a Victorian building, plays off the stark contrasts of light and shadow, creating an ambiance befitting a psychological thriller. MARIONETTE delves into the concept of destiny and self-fulfilling prophecies. I wish that there had been more focus on the background behind why these aspects were so important.
Despite its shortcomings, MARIONETTE presents a thought-provoking exploration of questions and the nature of reality. Thekla Reuten and Elijah Wolf's powerful performances intensify the tension.
MARIONETTE is a bold psychological thriller that, while not without its flaws, provides an immersive and atmospheric viewing experience. The movie's dark, claustrophobic setting and the compelling performances create a suspenseful examination of the world around us and what we think we know.
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[photo courtesy of ENTERTAINMENT SQUAD]