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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Review: Marla

Director: Lisa van Dam-Bates
Screenplay: Lisa van Dam-Bates
Year: 2019

One of the things that I like the most about independent horror movies is how many filmmakers are willing to experiment with ideas that might seem crazy. Although sometimes these ideas are not properly translated to the screen because of a budget that can limit what can be achieved, their originality cannot be overestimated. This is what happens with “Marla”, an original idea harmed by a budget that does not allow it to develop to its true potential. 

Marla is a young woman who a distant relative, a gynecologist by training, offers her an intrauterine device (IUD) for free. After she has the device implanted, Marla starts having strong cramps and bleeding and feeling like something is wrong with the device. These effects are just the beginning, as the device represents a much bigger danger for her, and the people close to her.

After her gynecologist friend implants her IUD, Marla and her boyfriend decided to test it that night, but the act ends up with a bloody ending for him. Something unknown, but seemingly associated with the IUD rips apart her boyfriend, something that is later repeated when a man tried to rape Marla. Both scenes are impactful and hard to watch at the very least and are one of the best things crafted in this movie.

“Marla” is the project of director, writer, and star Lisa van Dam-Bates debuting in all these roles. While her inexperience shows in all of them, her experience in makeup and special effects in other movies helps “Marla” to be visually impressive. On the contrary, her inexperience as a director and screenwriter manifests in an unbalanced movie that never manages to exploit its full potential, mainly hindered by a script that needed to be more polished.

The main issue with “Marla” is the script and acting and both are notably enough to greatly affect the quality of the movie. The screenplay suffers from pacing issues, as well as poor dialogues that are worsened by acting that is right down shameful from actors who seem to never delve into their characters. Also, a premise as interesting as this one needed stronger twists that those presented, which are easily predictable, although the final scenes are good and surprising. 

An idea as interesting as what is presented in “Marla” needs an opportunity to be developed with a greater budget, script, and cast. Lisa van Dam-Bates shows that she can perform in all the roles she takes in this movie, even when she needs to improve them all, and at least yours truly is interested in seeing what she achieves in her next project if she decides to continue working in horror films. For now, “Marla” is a good proposal that doesn’t get over this level mainly by a defective script and worse acting. 

“Marla is produced by High Octane Productions and will be available on DVD and digital platforms on November 5, 2019.

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