Jamie Marks is Dead (2014) [REVIEW] [SUNDANCE ’14]

WOW THANKS FOR THE FUCKING SPOILER ALERT, MOVIE TITLE. As if the title Jamie Marks is Dead wasn’t a big enough spoiler for you, this movie was also based on a book, so had you read the book, then that would’ve been a big fucking spoiler also. I haven’t read the book, but I did see The Ruins. That movie is WAY different from this movie, but they do have the same director in common. I had no idea what this movie was about going into it, but reactions out of the festival were kind of split. Some people loved it, others hated it. What will Wolfman think?! I don’t know, I asked myself the same thing.

In case you’re wondering who Jamie Marks (Noah Silver) is and why he has an entire movie named after him, he is a kid who go picked on a lot in high school. His body is found washed up on a river bank with no explanation for his death. While police investigate, the kids at school don’t really have much of a reaction. Considering he was bullied so much, it’s obvious that no one has any positive memories to share. The death does has an impact on Gracie (Morgan Saylor), the girl who found his body. While walking home, Adam (Cameron Monaghan) decides to stop by to see where the body was found, which is where he finds Gracie. The two strike up a romantic relationship, and while at Gracie’s house, Adam sees the ghost of Jamie outside. When Adam goes back home, he finds the ghost of Jamie in his closet. Despite being a ghost, Adam treats Jamie like a real person. He’s not really afraid, but takes sympathy on Jamie who clearly knows that he’s dead and feels completely alone. Wanting to make up for the loneliness felt in Jamie’s life, Adam spends a lot of time with Jamie, which is also an opportunity for Adam to escape his own stressful home life. The more attached Adam gets to Jamie, the more detached Adam gets from the real world, so it’s up to Gracie to try to help Adam move on from helping Jamie move on.

Fart. Wait, let me elaborate. Faaaaaaaart. The cinematography of a rural New York town looked awesome, there’s no doubt about that. The performances from the relatively young cast were also pretty decent, especially considering the more intense subject matter. What could have been an incredibly melodramatic film ended up being only mildly melodramatic, so good job to them. Unfortunately, the allegories and metaphors for love and loneliness were still a little too heavy and felt like well-worn territory. Although I did also like the fact that this was a ghost story where the ghosts were treated as actual characters as opposed to just a scary movie where ghosts jump out at you. There are some more intense sequences and sometimes the reveal of a “ghost” did startle you, but I enjoyed exploring the motivation behind why the different ghosts stuck around. Also the fact that there were geographical locations that acted as portals to carry someone out of purgatory was kind of neat. Sure, it might’ve been a supernatural high school melodrama, but it was still a high school melodrama, even if it was shot well.

Wolfman Moon Scale

one quarter moon

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