Scuffling probation officer Cathy Madden (Deidre Mullins) wearily took on the case of “Bloody” Mary Laidlaw (Derbhle Crotty)-paroled after doing 30 years for her husband’s murder, and returned to a rural community unhappy to see her. With two local kids vanishing immediately after, Cathy looks to establish Mary’s innocence… only to find that the most heinous of the town’s whispers may ring with unholy truth. Folk-horror opus from Ireland co-stars Paul Kennedy, Seamus O’Hara, and Jude Hill.

What We Thought:

Part of me liked Mandrake, part of me thought it didn’t make a lick of sense. I’m kind of ok with both reactions. A friend and I have talked about how the UK and Ireland need to put out more horror movies based on folklore. These places have hundreds of years of folklore and tales to draw from and I believe Mandrake does that here.

The film itself is about a probation officer who takes on a new case, a woman who killed her husband 30 years ago. The probation officer isn’t a local so she wasn’t familiar with the case. The town is and when two kids go missing, everyone immediately jumps to the same conclusion.

That sounds pretty straight forward and it is, but the film does get into folk storytelling with a creature and witchcraft. The woman who is released believes in potions and the like and thinks she can heal using the old ways. This is where the film lost me a bit. Was it mysticism or just her and her son doing the bad things? I can admit I did get a bit confused by it all. Mix in a substory involving the probation officer’s son, his father and his father’s pregnant significant other and it loses focus at times.

That being said Mandrake is still watchable. The leads are good and the setting really works. I don’t know if I can say I totally understood everything, but I do like films trying to use old folklore because there is plenty to use.

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