[Review] Mary: A Young Man Haunted by Guilt Meets a Mysterious Elderly Woman in This Eerie Horror Short

A razor-sharp look at the gap between trying to make ends meet and providing quality personal care for aged relatives as well as a chilling supernatural story, Mary, from codirectors Jo Rou and Dan Riordan, is an equally thought-provoking and spine-tingling psychological horror short.

A year to the day that his mother Mary passed away, insurance agent Rich (Logan Culter Smith) has an appointment with an elderly woman who shares the same name as his mother (Juliette Regnier) to discuss policy changes. Mary’s hospitality goes from uncomfortably nice to just plain uncomfortable, as she seems to know quite a few personal details about Rich, whose guilt grows by the moment.

Rou and Riordan invest the film with a balance of the old and the new or young, from the age gap between the two characters to the music used for the score, and beyond. They build the tension superbly, starting with remarks that disarm the increasingly impatient Rich and working to a dizzying climax.

The discomfiting situation between Rich and Mary is wonderfully realized thanks to strong performances from Smith and Reigner. The actors have marvelous chemistry together. 

The color palette of Mary reflects the growing uneasiness between the puzzled, frustrated Rich and the kindly, if clinging, Mary. From colorful exterior shots to the homey but off-putting decor in Mary’s home to the hypnotic climax, cinematographer Tyler Kubisty captures Rou’s and Riordan’s shared vision impressively.

Viewers will, like Rich, find this visit with Mary a steadily more unsettling one. Rou and Riordan, working from a screenplay by Justin Lazor, have crafted a horror short that strikes at emotions about family as much as it goes for the goosebumps.   

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

You can watch Mary now, linked below!

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.