Film Review: MARLA MAE (a.k.a. Marla) (2018)

MARLA MAE (a.k.a. Marla) *** USA 2018 Dir: Lisa van Dam-Bates. 92 mins

Working as a barmaid at local Bar & Grill The Valley, Marla (Lisa van Dam-Bates) lives a fairly mundane yet seemingly happy existence with her boyfriend Jake (Travis Johnny Ware) who works at the same place. Through work they have been hearing on the news about a serial killer on the prowl in the area yet think nothing of it. In what Marla would consider an unrelated occurrence she informs Jake that a family friend, now a doctor, recently got in touch with her and offered to fit her with an IUD (or coil) for free. Dr. Lourdes (Jason Stange) maybe a little creepy but to her he’s legit so off she goes to the women’s clinic to get it fitted. Not long after, Marla and Jake are getting it on when Jake starts coughing up blood and effectively melts into a huge pile of goo. This is a similar way to which the serial killers victims have turned up so Marla is now getting unwanted attention from the cops. She starts to suspect that something might be up with her newly fitted IUD and seeks revenge on Dr. Lourdes.

This is kind of a difficult one to explain without jumping all over the place like this movie kind of does. Two things about it hit you straight away though… The acting in this is shockingly bad from all involved and it has the most painfully slow start. Combine these two things together and it is quite a slog to get through, but don’t let that put you off just yet! When I say the acting is bad I mean it’s really bad, but, like driving past the scene of a car crash you can’t actually stop yourself looking. None of the characters apart from Stange have any personality whatsoever. Van Dam-Bates, Ware and Katie Jennings as friend Jules are the three most boring people I have ever come across. They had no enthusiasm or emotion shining through at all… but still I kept watching. That is the weird thing about this movie, despite this horrendous acting and slow pace once it gets going there is actually a half decent and entertaining story going on here. Let’s face it there aren’t many movies out there featuring killer contraceptives are there?! It is a great idea and the use of gooey, messy practical effects of melting body parts are really rather good. Kind of done in a late 80’s/early 90’s splatter style with buckets of blood is a lot of fun, plus the ending throws in a cool little twist as well. There was nothing spectacular about the set pieces or soundtrack but I found them adequate and less distracting than the acting. If this had a bigger budget and a more competent cast this could be a pretty awesome body horror but alas it wasn’t quite to be but on paper and if you can force yourself to stick with it, it’s actually not that bad.

Review by Sarah Budd

 

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