The Marsh

Comments0

Starring Gabrielle Anwar and Forest Whitaker. Rated 14A.

According to the Internet Movie Database, The Marsh is set for release on DVD in the States next month. The fact that Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for his role as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland must have convinced the marketers behind this sub-par ghost flick to toss it into theatres and make a few extra bucks off the actor's newly bolstered fame. Unfortunately for Whitaker, it slides right off the big screen, leaving quite the nasty, career-soiling shit stain.

Gabrielle Anwar stars as Claire Holloway, a psychologically scarred writer and illustrator of creepy kids' books who suffers from horrifying dreams arising from a childhood trauma. In order to face her demons, she takes up residence in a huge house that she feels mysteriously drawn to. As soon as she moves in, routine supernatural high jinks ensue, some inspired by The Exorcist and most utilizing huge industrial-strength fans.

To help her comprehend the wind tunnel in her drawing room, Claire recruits Whitaker's Geoffry Hunt, a quirky paranormal investigator who says stuff like: "People are weird. They die, they get weirder." After he sets up video surveillance, raging spooks appear on cue, as does a clichéd, vengeance-from-beyond plot. When the titular bog comes into play, we get to see hands pop up from the black goo, grab folks by the ankles, and pull them straight down into the muck. (If the victims are standing in quicksand, why do they need help sinking?)

As with many of today's disposable fright flicks, the sound-effects crew steals the show, and not in a good way. Whether it's a small shadow flitting across a wall or Claire bumping into someone at the corner store, everything is accompanied by earsplitting blasts of noise. When will 21st-century horror makers learn that volume, in and of itself, isn't scary? If it was, people would run screaming from heavy-metal shows, instead of surging toward stage-front barricades. Curses on the sound-effects geek who invented the grating metallic shriek.