A bunch of friends meeting up to spend some time together in an isolated cottage in the middle of some woods. What could possibly go wrong? Yes, Dead Mary is another horror movie that proves to be derivative of both The Evil Dead and any horror that has used the ol' Bloody Mary urban legend. Being derivative isn't always a terrible thing, especially in the horror genre. It's not unheard of for films to be derivative and yet also manage to end up feeling fresh. Unfortunately, that's not the case here.
Dominique Swain plays Kim, and Jefferson Brown is Matt. The two have recently broken up, but are now joining their friends for a weekend that should involve alcohol, sunshine and plenty of reminiscing about old times. The rest of the group is made up of Eve (Marie-Josee Colburn), Baker (Steven McCarthy) and Lily (Maggie Castle), and Dash (Michael Majeski) and Amber (Reagan Pasternak). It's everything that you'd expect, with the various tensions and banter, until someone suggests that they take turns at Dead Mary. A few people give it a go, heading into the dark bathroom with a candle to look into the mirror and say her name a number of times, and that's when things start going downhill. It's not long until the friends are dealing with death, division and . . . . . . . . . strange goings on, to put it mildly.
Let me just say that Dead Mary isn't actually a bad film. The script, by Christopher Warre Smets and Peter Sheldrick, could be greatly improved, and the direction by Robert Wilson is pedestrian stuff, complete with fade-outs and fade-ins that give the impression that it was a TV movie (I would assume), but it does okay with the familiar material, and the cast do a decent job.
Swain seems to be the lead, although the film doesn't really have the required focus for viewers to really get behind her, and she does just fine. Colburn starts off as a potentially interesting character, but is then sidelined far too quickly. Which leaves Brown, McCarthy, Castle, Majeski and Pasternak. The latter two aren't as likable, simply due to the way in which they're sketched out, but at least everyone is identifiable enough, as opposed to the bland groupings that sometimes end up populating these generic horror movies.
The worst thing about the movie is that it feels so half-baked and muddled. Once things start to go off the rails it all becomes quite random, while also never reaching its full potential. Characters bicker with one another, and often about the most pointless things. Highlighting the problems with the script, the second half of the movie creates a dynamic which sees the group accusing one of their own for horrible events that they just witnessed, despite the fact that what they witnessed proves that something supernatural is going on.
One or two gore gags show that there was some good work done, yet more would have been appreciated. There isn't really any tension, and no genuine scares, so some blood 'n' guts sprinkled liberally throughout the proceedings should have been a nice, easy way to distract from the weaker elements. Alas, that didn't happen.
Dead Mary isn't a terrible film, as I already said. However, it is distinctly below average.