Bob Hardison and Rich Robinson
Bob Hardison and Rich Robinson
Jade Dornfeld as Gwen
Frankie Ingrassia as Brooke
Ross Kurt as Marcus
Scoot McNairy as Charles
Marc Rose as Roger
Samantha Shelton as Kate
God bless Independent Horror. So many times the lack of budget means that the independent offering must rely on acting talent and story-telling to carry the load. Marcus, made for about $100K and distributed by Warner Home Video, is a brilliant example.
The story in Marcus begins with Roger (Marc Rose) and Gwen (Jade Dornfeld) taking a cab ride on their way to meet Roger’s sister Brooke for a family get-together during the Christmas holiday. Something is very strange about this couple from the beginning…Roger simultaneously seems to be repulsed by Gwen and heatedly in lust with her. Gwen is domineering and devious while Roger is both subservient to her and anger-laden. Both are much looking forward to a reunion with sister Gwen, but seemingly for different reasons.
I almost forgot, preceding the strange cab ride is a cryptic scene where a young woman is being tormented and cross-examined by a stern and menacing male voice. The highly intense and dramatic interaction comes to a climax as the woman is told to close her eyes, and upon doing so has her head smashed into the wall knocking her unconscious. Nice opening.
Roger and Gwen arrive at sister Brooke’s house to discover an unpleasant surprise – Roger’s ex-best friend and his ex-girlfriend have also been invited to dinner. The exchange between all of them is tense…no, downright hostile. Roger’s anger-management issues come face to face with the ex-girlfriends agenda of reconciliation and the ex-best friend’s desire to stir up trouble. Nobody likes fiancé Gwen.
The real surprise, however, is the arrival of Brooke’s “boyfriend” Marcus. What a piece of work. Markus is directive, rude and outwardly aggressive himself. To make matters worse, Brooke had never mentioned to any of them the existence of a boyfriend at all, and Brooke is nowhere to be found.
What follows is a series of intense scenes where the conflicts between the characters reach their boiling points, Marcus continues his accusatory, aggressive and abusive tone and the attendees to the holiday dinner are generally unpleasant and mean to each other. Surprisingly, nobody leaves the house during the entire ordeal…because, as we find out, each has a hidden agenda for being there that overshadows any urge to vacate the unpleasant environment. Meanwhile, Brooke continues not to show up while Marcus makes excuses as to why she is detained.
Marcus climaxes in complete violent mayhem rich with revelations of agendas, hidden evil acts and devious intentions. Marcus is the ring-leader through it all.
Talk about “psychological”. Marcus takes us on a ride of psychological intrigue, horror, violence and deception. The entire movie, with the exception of some early scenes, takes place within Brooke’s house and focuses on the interaction between the characters and the careful intention of Marcus himself. Secrets are revealed, tempers flair and people die violent deaths.
There are a few elements of Marcus that don’t make sense – particularly when Marcus himself commits one particular act that makes it impossible to consider him any kind of hero – other than that Marcus is a tale of retribution and justice being applied by a very sick mind.
The acting talent and the story are the elements of Marcus that make it a success. Engaging, intriguing and violently sick encapsulate Marcus in a nutshell. The anger elements of the characters were a bit overdone, but overall Marcus is a gripping psychological ride that is sure to disturb and promote after-film discussion. That’s what independent horror is all about.