Exclusive: ‘Marrowbone’ Five-Star Review PLUS Bonus Director Sergio G. Sánchez Q&A!

While it’s still early in the year, it seems five-star film fare of 2018 is alive and well.  The captivating new thriller Marrowbone (out April 13 In Theaters, On Demand, Amazon Video, and iTunes from Magnet Releasing) is the latest flick to exceed cinematic expectations (at least in this critic’s humble opinion!) and as such is the singular focus of this extra special article.  Marrowbone is a well-woven ghost story via The Impossible and The Orphanage writer Sergio G. Sánchez here making his directorial debut about four young siblings who work hard to become recluse inside the family home after their mother dies to avoid being separated – but their haunted homestead has some equally harrowing surprises.  The film features a myriad of tasty twists and turns, some wonderful visual style and a killer cast across the board including the likes of Mia Goth, George MacKay (so good in Captain Fantastic!), Charlie Heaton of Stranger Things fame and the always amazing Anya Taylor-Joy.  (She’s also in my other five-star favorite from this year Thoroughbreds!)  So to celebrate the upcoming release of one damn stellar piece of cinema below is my full dogs review of the film (I give movie credit where it’s due film fans!) plus for those eager for a little bit more insight I scored an exclusive interview with the maestro behind the movie writer/director Sergio G. Sánchez who chatted about everything from balancing the film’s dark and hopeful tone to his inspired casting of the members of the Marrowbone family foursome.  Highlighting awesome outings that deserve to be seen, here’s the skinny on…Marrowbone!


Sometimes those who pen cinematic stories that are exceptional cannot also handle the directing reigns and when they do try something gets lost from script to screen.  Thankfully that is not the case with the moving, moody and all around marvelous new ghost story outing Marrowbone as helmer Sergio G. Sánchez, known for penning fine flicks like The Impossible and The Orphanage, puts the same careful detail in both his writing and his debut directing and the result is a first-rate flick that combines equal parts horror and human.

It’s 1969 and mom Rose, free from a bunch of back baggage, takes her four kids to her childhood home of Marrowbone House in hopes of starting anew.  But she soon becomes ill and nearing death’s door frightened that her children ages twenty to five might be split up if anyone discovered she had died. So she makes her oldest son Jack promise to keep such a possible future event a secret and keep the family together no matter what.  So when Rose does eventually pass, it’s up to the clever kids to keeping all outsiders at bay – but danger lurks inside as well.

Vague?  You bet!  Expertly crafted in both story and cinematic execution, there is so much layering, detail and twists & turns within Marrowbone that giving any more detail would definitely ruin the fun.  (What happens in Marrowbone stays in Marrowbone!)  But what’s most notable about the story itself is how it manages to avoid being one note.  Filling the yarn with drama, horror, suspense, romance and fantasy and all the while keeping mystery at maximum wattage, Sánchez shows a continued flair for writing fine films.  But it’s his work as a director that cherry tops the Marrowbone movie sundae.  From his complex and thoughtful visual style (everything from long lush landscapes to dark house corners!) to his uncanny selection of songs (never knew The Beach Boys tune Wouldn’t It Be Nice would give me the willies!), the newbie director shows the craftsmanship of an expert – both the pen and the visual sword are mighty here.

If there is an extra film feather in Sánchez’s cap has to be his pitch-perfect casting of ALL involved.  Turning in unbelievably soulful performances, his cast nails every character nuance times ten. As the Marrowbone foursome George MacKay as the heroic and stoic Jack, Mia Goth as his hyper-aware sister Jane, Charlie Heaton as the sullen brother Billy and young Matthew Stagg as the innocent and curious Sam make the perfectly sweet and strange family unit.  But there’s also the villainess Kyle Soller as the local greedy bank man and my personal favorite the seemingly effortless work by a more mellow and warm Anya Taylor-Joy as a local gal who loves Jack and keeps the family’s secret.  (Plus it’s a one-eighty from her equally effective ice cold work in Thoroughbreds earlier this year!)

I’ve heard some compare this film to the genre work of filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Amenábar and claim there’s nothing new to see, but rest assured Sánchez makes his debut a gripping ghost story all his own.  One truly rich and haunting tale that lingers long, this one guarantees film fans will not go home hungry – the marrow in this movie bone is meaty indeed.


And now for a little cool cinema clarity is the mastermind behind the five-star flick – Marrowbone writer/director…


Marrowbone is one very cool and creepy ghost story with feet still planted in reality – what are some of the films that made a memorable impression on you being of the same type?

Sergio G. Sánchez: I would say there are some films, but also some books.  I read Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw when I was twelve and it really made my head explode.  I went into that book expecting to find a straight up horror story and I was very intrigued when the book ended without any clear answers and how it’s left to your imagination.  Also the works of Shirley Jackson were very influential; particularly We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  And I guess if I had to choose films that influenced this it would be The Other by Robert Mulligan and also Our Mother’s House by Jack Clayton.   It’s all these universes of children who live without any kind of adult supervision and make their own worlds in the absence of any kind of ruling figure – that’s the last seed that made it to Marrowbone.

There’s an equal sense of dread and hope within the film – how important was it for you to keep a balance of both within the film?

SS: It was a key thing. It’s there also in The Orphanage and The Impossible – finding that balance between the really scary elements of life and especially finding hope in the darkest moments.  But this script came from a very painful moment in my life where I lost someone very young that I loved very much in my family and I guess sometimes when we suffer and life hurts a lot we turn to art, or film in my case, to re-tell the story in a way we can find comfort.  To me it’s not just a thriller or a horror story, it’s meant to be very emotional.

Love your lead cast of four siblings – both their characters and the actors you chose.  Would like to go through all four and get a little info on the actor and their character in terms of the casting and what you feel each represents within the story…

SS: The thing about this movie was the casting process was very complicated, but also really rewarding.  I saw something like two thousand actors for this movie.  The challenge was that I had to find the right actor to play each of those characters, but I also had to find a group of actors that would be believable as a family.  So in order I cast Mia Goth who plays Jane first.  She came in and did a reading that was just phenomenal.  She had sent in a tape that I already liked very much, but the minute she came into the office I tried a few different things with her and there’s something very special about Mia.  Also what I discovered was that she could do something very interesting with her voice – there’s a little girl voice and then something very deep and she won me over immediately. Jane is meant to represent kindness and is the glue that holds the family together.

Then it was Charlie Heaton who at the moment I didn’t know.  He came to London right after they had finished shooting the first season of Stranger Things.  I had never seen Charlie in anything and he told me that he had just made a series with Netflix.  And then when we were shooting the film in Spain it was funny because we shot in this very small town and people knew there was a film that was going to be shot there and they wanted to know if any stars were coming. And they were young actors so they weren’t going to see any stars.  So on the second week of our shooting, Stranger Things came out on Netflix and it was bizarre because we went home on a Friday night and mixed with everyone in this small town and it was nothing special.  But by Monday morning everyone had seen Stranger Things – it became this global event overnight.  And suddenly when we came back to shoot on Monday we had twenty guys at the gate screaming, ‘Charlie! Charlie!’ (Laughs)

The third one to come onboard was Matthew Stagg who played Sam. He never read the script – I didn’t want him to know what the story was about because I wanted to preserve that innocence and I wanted him to have a fun time shooting and not to worry about the dark layers of the story.

And then we finally cast George MacKay as Jack.  I had so many actors audition for Jack and it was so difficult because I had so many great options.  But there was something about George.  When I was doing the casting I went to see him – he was doing The Caretaker the Harold Pinter play in London – and he was so phenomenal that I went with him.

Also Anya Taylor-Joy who plays a nearby family friend has a wonderful nurturing quality as Allie and it’s something we haven’t witnessed in her many other amazing quirky roles – what made you feel she was the right person for that part?

SS: The thing is I had seen the trailer for The Witch and I ran to the Sitges Film Festival to see it.  And it was really strange because then she came in for an introduction and she was wearing this beautiful dress and high heels and makeup and she looked much older than she was in that film.  Our casting director sent her the script and she went into her office and she taped one scene and then two hours after I got that scene she taped it at home and sent it to me again.  So I immediately thought wait a minute – if she’s done this two times in the same day she must really want this. And when we Skyped, she was still shooting Barry in New York at the time, she told me, ‘It’s the first time somebody offered me the role of the nice normal girl!’  She loved the story and was very generous in wanting to be a part of it and not be the lead – it was wonderful working with her.  It was wonderful working with all of them, but Anya especially.  She is smart beyond her years and she’s so sensitive and warm hearted – I hope to make every single film forever with her.

The lush landscapes and character-ridden houses in the film almost provide another story layer – how important was the visual look of the film for you?

SS: Very important and that’s probably one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to direct a film.  When I go into movies I really expect to find an experience that will make me travel to another place and time.  I had many opportunities to do no-budget horror films and I had to wait because I wanted to have the opportunity to really construct a world that was engrossing and filled with little details.  So we found a real house – the entire film is shot in a real house.  We didn’t shoot anything on a soundstage, we only used available light – I wanted everything to be luminous and real – and also the landscapes are actually the landscapes of my childhood.  I lived in Spain until I was fifteen and Marrowbone is the kind of childhood I remember.  And we worked a lot with the paintings of Andrew Wyeth which had all the visual tone I wanted for the film and that was the visual reference I used with my DP and production designer.

You use The Beach Boys song Wouldn’t It Be Nice in a way that kinda gave me the shivers – can you talk a bit about your reasons behind its clever selection?

SS: Again, it’s also a personal thing.  That was the first album I had when I was a kid and for some reason whenever summer came we took that album out and played it to death.  So that song for me marked the beginning of summer and it was a happy joyous song when we played it on those early days.  And then as the summer grew to an end, for some strange reason the song became very melancholic and sad and it was more about longing.  So it’s funny how the same song can be both happy and melancholic and I wanted to use it in this film – I always like to play with things like that.

With such an impressive five-star first film what can we expect from you next as a director?

SS: I have no idea because I’ve been meaning to direct for so long and I have so many scripts that I’ve written that now suddenly I find myself with the opportunity of people coming to me saying, ‘What do you want to do?’  Well I have all these…(laughs)  So I’m developing three projects at the same time, I don’t know which is gonna come first, but a TV series and two movies.  I think I’m gonna walk away a little bit from suspense and horror – it’s still gonna be in the fantasy realm, but it’s gonna be light hearted and humorous in the vein of The NeverEnding Story.


Marrowbone hits Theaters, On Demand, Amazon Video, and iTunes on April 13 from Magnet Releasing.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

1 Response to “Exclusive: ‘Marrowbone’ Five-Star Review PLUS Bonus Director Sergio G. Sánchez Q&A!”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    Another one that just got propelled to the top of my “want to see” list!