Film - Jamie Marks Is Dead

Jamie Marks Is Dead

As part of last years BFI London Film Festival coverage, Steve Taylor-Bryant, remembers the supernatural film Jamie Marks is Dead...

When picking films at a festival, whether huge world renowned festivals or more intimate independent ones, I like to watch something a little bit different, something that may challenge my preconceptions on well worn storylines and, with director Carter Smith (The Ruins), I felt sure all the boxes would be ticked with Jamie Marks is Dead. Smith takes something as simple as a landscape shot and makes you feel as unsettled as possible then, just when you think some crumb of comfort may be appearing from around a corner, he hits you with a soundtrack that unbalances the emotional cortex in your brain. All this from a guy who used to be a fashion photographer. I am so glad I am not a model.

As well as moody scenes and melancholic music, Smith has gathered a cast that is as on top of their game as they ever will be. Adam (Cameron Monaghan) is a track and field hero in the local school who, via a flashback, sees the other jocks bullying a child named Jamie Marks (Noah Silver) and yet does nothing to stop the attack. Jamie Marks is discovered dead near a river by Gracie (Morgan Saylor) and the police start to investigate if this is a suicide or if indeed foul play is involved. Adam and Gracie become friends after meeting at a shrine for Jamie and, whilst visiting with Gracie, Adam sees the vision of Jamie Marks, bruised and battered and in his underpants, at Gracie's window.

Gracie is horrified by what she can see but Adam seems drawn towards Jamie. Jamie starts to make more appearances, for want of a better term, haunting Adam and Adam,whilst suffering his own life issues, starts to become withdrawn from society. Adam's mother (Liv Tyler) is disabled in a car accident caused by a drunk driver and his brother is a delinquent. His mother has also befriended the drunk woman (Judy Greer) responsible for her paralysis, much to Adam's disgust.

What Jamie Marks is Dead does not do is tie the whole thing up in a nice bow for you. There is no elaborate scene where what actually happened is played out, and the title is pretty much a statement. Jamie Marks IS Dead and the film is more about Adam and Gracie and how their intertwined lives coexist. It has some supernatural elements for the average spook obsessed fan to like but what Smith has produced is melodrama of the highest order.

A must see for those who like their films moody and a must avoid if you like happy endings and glitter sprinkled on a nice story.

Image - BFI.