The Large Image
- Martha Marcy Might Marlene is a deeply disturbing and real looking portrayal of the horrors of cult life, making it extra horrifying than typical horror movies.
- The movie’s emphasis on Martha’s restoration after escaping the cult prevents it from being exploitative, highlighting the long-lasting results of her experiences.
- Elizabeth Olsen’s nuanced and highly effective efficiency as Martha showcases her expertise and foreshadows her future roles depicting characters battling psychological challenges.
Cults are a common topic for dark films and tv sequence. The disturbed characters, unusual rituals, and perverse ideologies of cults create many fascinating story alternatives in a wide range of genres, from supernatural horror to true crime. However few cult tales come near rivaling the disturbing results of Martha Marcy May Marlene. The 2011 movie, directed in a powerful debut effort by The Iron Claw helmer Sean Durkin, is ostensibly described as a psychological thriller and/or drama, however its frank, comparatively real looking depiction of the depravity of cult life makes it extra deeply horrifying than many easy horror movies. These terrors are personified in a shocking efficiency by Elizabeth Olsen, who additionally made her film debut with the movie.
Martha Marcy Might Marlene
Haunted by painful reminiscences and rising paranoia, a broken girl struggles to re-assimilate together with her household after fleeing an abusive cult.
- Launch Date
- June 10, 2011
- Important Style
- In theaters this fall.
What Is ‘Martha Marcy Might Marlene’ About?
In the beginning of the movie, a younger girl named Martha (Olsen), who appears to be at risk, calls her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), for assist, after which Lucy picks her up and brings her to stick with her and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy) at their trip home in Connecticut. Flashbacks depict Martha’s experiences residing with a cult led by a person named Patrick (John Hawkes), who dubs her “Marcy Might,” within the Catskill Mountains. Within the current, Martha begins the troublesome strategy of recovering from her traumatic ordeal and rebuilding a life for herself.
The selection to start the movie with Martha having already fled the cult establishes the tone and thematic intentions of the story. Whereas watching the flashbacks, the viewer is aware of that Martha escapes, so they aren’t holding their breath hoping that she survives as they’d be in a standard cult horror film. As a substitute, the dread and discomfort come from watching what she endures earlier than she escapes and seeing how these occasions affect her emotionally. She joins the cult primarily based on a advice from her buddy however is initially cautious of committing to it earlier than she is subjected to a brainwashing course of.
“If you wish to come inside 50 miles of me, you higher be prepared for the deepest finish of the pool.”
After being drugged, she is raped by Patrick in what the cult describes as a “cleaning” ritual and subsequently emotionally manipulated by main feminine cult member Katie (Maria Dizzia), who convinces her to think about the assault as factor. Though she ultimately turns into a extra devoted and lively member of the cult and is even proven facilitating the “cleaning” rape of one other provoke member, Sarah (Julia Garner), Martha continues to point out discomfort with a few of Patrick and the opposite members’ actions. She refuses to kill a cat on Patrick’s order, despite the fact that this results in additional abuse from him. Whereas taking part in a theft, she can be horrified when a few of her compatriots homicide the home-owner who interrupts them. After this, Patrick initially appears to win her again over by fondling her and telling her she is his favourite individual, however it is usually implied that Martha ultimately dramatically modifications course and kills him, which in flip leads her to flee the cult and to her fixed concern that different members will observe her down for revenge.
‘Martha Marcy Might Marlene’ Depicts the Horrors of Cults
Cult stories in sure genres, like fantasy or supernatural horror, threat glorifying them, or at the least not making them appear as immoral as they’re. By presenting a totally real looking world, Martha Marcy Might Marlene doesn’t fall into this entice. The movie doesn’t even develop a lot on what the cult’s “beliefs” truly are as a result of it needs to make it clear that these beliefs are all lies meant to persuade the lowly-ranked members to do no matter Patrick and his closest followers need. It’s all the time apparent to the viewer what Patrick actually is: a wicked predator and rapist who is nice at recognizing weak folks and convincing them to observe him via a mixture of some real charisma, medicine, sexual and different kinds of violence, and emotional manipulation like gaslighting. The viewer’s information that actual folks have been taken benefit of in the identical approach Martha, Sarah, and the opposite victims are is far more haunting than typical fright ways like soar scares.
Whereas the flashbacks account for a good portion of the movie’s runtime, the larger emphasis on Martha’s restoration after escaping ensures that the movie doesn’t come throughout as exploitative as some lesser cult tales do. Just like the flashbacks, that restoration is harrowing to look at due to the frankness and realism of how the disturbing materials is dealt with. Martha definitely makes some progress in therapeutic by the tip of the movie, however she additionally positively has a protracted highway of tougher work forward of her and there are some chilling reminders of how long-lasting, if not everlasting, the consequences of her experiences is likely to be on her. She typically acts in methods which might be socially inappropriate and, at the least initially, continues to spout some uncommon, unrealistic philosophies about life which might be clearly what she was compelled to imagine while within the cult. Probably the most egregious incidents are when she tries to climb into mattress with Lucy and Ted when they’re having intercourse and when she tells Lucy she might be a horrible mom after an argument.
At one level, Martha additionally secretly telephones the cult, with the implication being that she could also be contemplating returning to it, however hangs up when a feminine member solutions as “Marlene Lewis,” a code identify Martha herself had used whereas a member. The top of the movie additionally emphasizes that Martha will stay in concern of the cult for a very long time, probably ceaselessly. Within the ultimate scene, she is at the back of a automotive with Lucy and Ted, driving to an unknown vacation spot. Ted has to cease brief when a person runs out into the highway, subsequently getting right into a parked automotive the household had simply handed and starting to observe them down the highway. Martha, who had beforehand seen (or thought she had seen) a person watching her swim from throughout the lake, is visibly nervous, and appears again on the following automotive, although the film ends before confirming whether or not the mysterious driver, who’s dressed and appears like the person on the lake, is a cultist bent on both hurting Martha or bringing her again as is implied.
Elizabeth Olsen Makes Martha a Compelling Character With a Nuanced Story
That each one being mentioned, there are additionally flaws in Lucy and Ted’s characters and the way they deal with the scenario that makes issues much more troublesome for Martha. Whereas they definitely deserve credit score for serving to Martha as a lot as they do, Lucy and Ted might make her restoration a bit simpler in the event that they had been extra versatile about integrating her into their lives. Lucy admits that years in the past she had deserted Martha and was now engaged on getting again into her life (which additionally gives extra perception into the non-public issues that seemingly led Martha to hitch the cult within the first place). Nonetheless, her and Ted’s insistence on sustaining their upper-class lifestyle additionally creates extra challenges, comparable to after they host a celebration on the home, main Martha to have a extreme panic assault when she confuses a visitor for a cult member. Lucy’s reluctance to ship Martha to a psychiatric hospital as Ted suggests, whereas motivated by love, can be arguably misguided, as educated psychological well being professionals working with Martha along with continued help from her household would seemingly be the most effective technique to make sure she will get higher.
Though Olsen had acted alongside her well-known sisters in tv tasks as a toddler, it’s nonetheless exhausting to imagine that Martha Marcy Might Marlene is her massive display debut, given the nuanced, dynamic efficiency she delivers. The standard of the movie rests largely on her capability to carry to life all of Martha’s assorted, typically contradictory, traits and she or he does so spectacularly. She depicts the character’s battle with trauma with a respectful vulnerability, having told The Hollywood Reporter that she was within the function as a result of she finds, “psychological diseases fascinating.”
‘Martha Marcy Might Marlene’ Forshadowed Elizabeth Olsen’s Appearing Profession
This is without doubt one of the elements of her work within the function that foreshadowed the remainder of her profession. Olsen has turn into recognized for taking part in characters battling psychological challenges — particularly grief — because of each her most well-known function because the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Wanda Maximoff, whose psychological well being was targeted on as a principal theme within the acclaimed Disney+ sequence WandaVision, and in non-MCU tasks like Sorry For Your Loss, a sequence by which she starred as a widow. Nonetheless, she additionally shows an intense ruthlessness in scenes the place Martha acts as a cult matriarch, particularly throughout Sarah’s rape, which can be current throughout Wanda’s villainous turns within the Marvel movies Avengers: Age of Ultron and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, in addition to the HBO sequence Love and Death, by which Olsen performed real-life homicide suspect Sweet Montgomery.
There’s nothing inherently fallacious with extra fanciful cult tales (though, as talked about beforehand, poorly executed ones don’t all the time present how malicious cults could be). However for a sensible, complete tackle the subject, it’s exhausting to beat Martha Marcy Might Marlene. It’s not a simple watch, however its dealing with of trauma and restoration makes for an emotionally wealthy expertise and Olsen and Durkin’s work additionally reveals the primary hanging glimpses of their respective skills.
Martha Marcy Might Marlene is on the market to hire on Amazon within the U.S.