Haunting of the Mary Celeste A Shallow Supernatural Thriller [REVIEW]

Haunting of the Mary Celeste
6/10
Haunting of the Mary Celeste showed so much promise building up its characters and its own premise as a supernatural thriller. It's disappointing that it never fully lives up to its potential to give more than just a simple peak of what it was building up to. If it took more risks, it wouldn't feel so formulaic and predictable. Commendable performances by stars Emily Swallow and Richard Roundtree help drive up much of the tension of the film.

One of the appealing aspects of marine mysteries like the Bermuda Triangle or the ill-fated ships like the Mary Celeste is the intrigue trying to trace the source of the phenomenon behind its related disappearances. While it's easy for a film like Haunting of the Mary Celeste to venture to the grotesque, it takes the higher road than what you might expect from horror. Directed by Shana Betz and written by Jerome Olivier and David Ross, the story follows a research crew trying to investigate the famed ship's disappearance. The researcher Rachel (Emily Swallow of Supernatural and The Mandalorian) theorizes the original crew of the Mary Celeste might have incidentally traveled through a rift by accident.

Haunting of the Mary Celeste Too Safe Supernatural Thriller [REVIEW]
Emily Swallow as Rachel and Richard Roundtree as Tulls in Haunting of the Mary Celeste. Image courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
Joining Rachel are Aldo (Pierre Adele), Grant (Dominic DeVore), and Cassandra (Alice Hunter) as they board a ship owned by an older man Tulls (Richard Roundtree). When it comes to films held within confined areas, the film does a commendable job utilizing cramped space and let the drama play itself out. The pacing is consistent as we get to know the crew, but members start getting sick and ultimately disappear without explanation, as with such a maritime genre. While I understand the need to play on the remaining crew's fears, it feels like nothing much than a few fish flakes are really ever offered even to the very end.

Haunting of the Mary Celeste Too Safe Supernatural Thriller [REVIEW]
Emily Swallow as Rachel in Haunting of the Mary Celeste (2020). Image courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
Times when more of the story can be revealed, the creative direction to keep dangling plot that goes deeper to pay off the characters' suffering. It stays that way until the very end. It's not frustrating because of its predictability. It's frustrating because the film never offers any meaningful resolution, even with its twist it offers at the end. Many films that tease an "other side" offers something, but the film seems to recycle the same shots with different actors. The jump scares are nothing remarkable, and Swallow and Roundtree's performances drive much of the film's tension as opposed to its supernatural elements. Haunting of the Mary Celeste comes courtesy of Vertical Entertainment and releases on October 23 to theatres, digital, and on-demand.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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