MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE—-Sean Durkin made a resounding feature-debut splash writing & directing this superior 2011 chiller about a young woman who escapes from a cult ‘family’ in the Catskill Mountains, taking refuge with her estranged sister and brother-in-law. Struggling with fantasy-reality fallout from abuse in the cult, she tasks her sisters stability as she windmills to grip some sanity. Will the cult follow?
Spooky and sadly convincing, with a superlatively creepy job from the stellar John Hawkes as the cult leader. Front, center and dominating is a star-making breakout from Elizabeth Olsen. Here 22, the beautiful younger sister of those other-worldly magazine spectres, the Olsen twins, her luminous, cerebral, haunted work here rivals that of Jennifer Lawrence a year earlier in the similarly brooding Winter’s Bone (also with Hawkes).
Produced for a rib-lean $1,000,000, shot in a lightning 20 days, it drew strong reviews (universal in their praise of Olsen) and earned $5,400,000. Measured at 102 minutes, with Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, Brady Corbett and Christopher Abbott.