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Mandrake (2022) Movie Review

I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!

It's behind me, isn't it?

It's behind me, isn't it?

MPAA Rating

N/A

Running Time

85 Minutes

Director

Lynne Davison

Writer

Matt Harvey

It’s finally here, the newest Marvel movie because it’s been so long since you’ve been able to see a Marvel movie or TV show. How could you possibly survive without one?

Mandrake is the long awaited sequel to Black Panther only it’s set in Ireland and it’s a horror movie and it has nothing to do with Black Panther and the only thing black about Mandrake are the night scenes, which are pretty f*cking dark. Again, Mandrake is set in Ireland so the actors are as white as the paper I’m writing this on using a quill made from Ron Weasley’s useless ginger feathers.

Since you or someone you know has already seen Wakanda Forever (that running time is forever) twice by the time this hits the internet, you can tell him or her that there’s at least one alternative this weekend on Shudder.

Just to qualify, Mandrake is the best Irish horror movie of November released on Shudder before Thanksgiving.

SYNOPSIS

Mandrake opens somewhere in Northern Ireland. If you know you’re going to watch this please take the time to enable the subtitles because you won’t know what the f*ck some words might be. I needed the subtitles for this more than I needed them for Decision to Leave…and I don’t even speak Korean.

It’s dark in some swamp and some unfortunate man is digging, We don’t know what he’s looking for. We don’t know his name and it’s probably for the best because he’s now being dragged by some…being. We hope he’s okay but the screams suggest otherwise. Sorry, character we don’t know. Hopefully we know your name through exposition.

Mandrake opens again and we meet Cathy Madden (Deirdre Mullins). We know her character name right away so we can assume she’s not going to get killed within five minutes. Cathy helps prisoners who’ve just been released ease their way back into society. She checks up on them, brings them pillows and cans of corn that have expired. She’s now single. Her ex-husband Jason (Paul Kennedy) is a police officer. He’s married to Grace (Roisin Gallagher) and have a baby on the way.

Jason and Cathy share custody of their son Luke (Judy Greer). Grace is an active co-parent and Luke has now taken to calling Grace “Mommy”. That’s sweet. Why this block of exposition? Not sure, as it’s probably not going to be important later.

Cathy’s boss tells her that Bloody Mary will soon be released after 30 years of being locked up. That’s not professional. Mary “Bloody Mary” Laidlaw (Derbhle Crotty) will soon be released after being locked up since 1991. The name Bloody Mary stirs up a lot of folks in this tiny Irish berg. Why? Because people think Mary is a witch. Mary went to jail because she chopped her husband up with an ax. That seems unfair. Many people who aren’t witches chop up their husband with an ax. We didn’t know the husband. Maybe he deserved it.

If I move this wall will fall on me.

If I move this wall will fall on me.

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Cathy assigns herself to help Mary get acclimated. It’s her job and she’s good at it. But Mary doesn’t have a working phone or electricity or Wi-Fi and got kicked off Twitter. People have also vandalized Mary’s house over the years, but that’s okay because there aren’t any lights so we can’t read what they’re saying.

Cathy introduces herself. Cathy has done some research on Mary. Mary was pregnant when she went to prison and the authorities took her child away from her. Mary asks if Cathy knows about the Wandering Man. He takes children who stray too far away from home and into the moss.

Cathy thinks that’s an awful lot of exposition to drop at their first meeting. Maybe dole it out in sections. Cathy also puts a LoJack on Mary’s ankle. Mary’s leg has a lot of tattoos. No judgement, it’s just scary.

Turns out the other citizens of Irish town (bring the pitchforks and torches!) are aware of Mary returning and some children named Leon (Chris Evans) and Jennifer (Paul Rudd) are wandering near Mary’s property hoping to get a look at the witch. Too bad they’re dragged and captured by a large being with tendrils and a mossy hide.

Kids are missing and now everyone is going to blame Mary. Some people just can’t catch a break.

Good news! It’s not long before Leon and Jennifer are found (YAY!). Bad news! They’re dead (sad face emoji). Mary’s return has stirred up something in the moss and now two kids are dead. Has Mary awaked something long though dormant? Or is Bloody Mary really the cause of it all?

Yes. No. Maybe. No. Definitely.

Sure hope that wall doesn't fall on her.

Sure hope that wall doesn't fall on her.

What Works with Mandrake

  • Derbhle Crotty’s performance as Mary keeps you captivated for most of the 80 minute running time. You’re never really sure if Mary is evil, good, or just bent, but Crotty keeps you off balance until it’s unequivocal. You could say it makes you uncomf-Derbhle. Sorry, I have no idea how to say that name.
  • The darkly lit scenes at the moss are shot well enough to allow you to use your imagination as to what is going on. Your mind goes dozens of different ways and most of them are the worst possible scenario. It’s a horror movie, so sometimes you’ll be right.
She looks like Teresa Palmer in this shot.

She looks like Teresa Palmer in this shot.

What Doesn’t Work with Mandrake

  • A spotty middle act in which not much in terms of scares occurs. For an 80-minute movie, you don’t want it to drag on as much as it does. Fortunately it’s an 80 minute movie and that moss is just around the corner.

Overall.

Mandrake is an adequate piece of folk horror that might make you postpone that trip to Ireland. It’s breezy enough that the slow parts don’t drag on like those kids on the moss. If you’re in the mood for some thick accents, then dig this Mandrake up not just for its healing properties but for the dead kids as well.

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Noel Penaflor

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