Mara / Purple Lights

More often than not, during my most couch-locky sessions, I wonder if I've somehow convinced my body that I'm asleep. And no, I'm not high as I write this. And yes, I realize that the simple fact I'm asking myself such a question at all clearly proves I am NOT asleep.

But hear me out. During these moments my heart rate drops to a restful BPM, my breathing slows to a deep sleep-like rhythm, and I become completely paralyzed. I am able to make a conscious choice in my mind to move an arm or reposition a leg, and my brain can take that thought and attempt to tell my limbs to carry out the request, but nothing happens. I'm locked, unable to move a muscle - aside from the occasional involuntary hypnagogic jerk. The only thing I really have any control over is keeping my eyes open. But even that can be challenging. I've since coined this state as "stoney slumber".

So why the long intro for a simple movie review? Because Mara focuses on this in-between state of wake and sleep - albeit not weed-induced. Even the movie trailer posits: "There are three states of being. Awake, asleep, and somewhere in between." It was immediately after watching the trailer I decided Mara was something I needed to experience high. The very thought of watching a movie about sleep paralysis while being paralyzed myself blew my mind. So I pulled out a strain I've had success with putting me in a deep couch-lock in the past - UpNorth Collective's Purple Lights.

Purple Lights is an indica hybrid that's crossed between the legendary Northern Lights and Blackberry Kush strains. Nugs are fluffy and sticky with a prominent purple hue, deep green highlights, orange hairs, all topped off with a dusting of delicious trichomes. The scent is distinctively grape with the standard earthy pine notes. The grape scent carries through in its flavor. Purple Lights offers a sweetness that isn't terribly harsh on the in or exhale. To guarantee the effects I was hoping to achieve that night, I took things one step further. After packing my bowl to the brink of overflow, I unscrewed my kief catch and layered a generous helping of magical unicorn sprinkles over top. The stage was set.

After quickly going through my bedtime ritual, I slid under the sheets, got comfortable and pressed play. I'll admit, even though I consider myself a relatively seasoned cannabis user I started questioning my decision. Did I smoke too much? Is this even a good idea? I became anxious thinking that perhaps the subject matter coupled with my state of mind would be too much for me to handle. But I was committed and buckled in to see this experience through to the end.

Mara stars Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Oblivion) as Kate, a criminal psychologist assigned to a case involving a husband who was apparently murdered in his sleep by his wife, Helena (Rosie Fellner). After Helena pleads her innocence, Kate interviews the only other witness - Sophie (Mackenzie Imsand), Helena's daughter. Sophie spins a tale about a demonic creature called Mara who murders people in their sleep. Pressured from the lead detective at the scene to detain a suspect, and skeptical of the far-fetched supernatural story, Helena is taken into custody and separated from her daughter.
There are three states of being. Awake, asleep, and somewhere in between.
It isn't long though before Kate begins experiencing episodes of sleep paralysis herself and decides to dig deeper into the phenomenon. During her investigation she uncovers clues that ultimately lead her to a support group of people who also suffer from the condition. There she meets Dougie (Craig Conway) who conveniently goes into a passionate rant about the Mara curse. You see, Dougie is woke AF and is determined to drop his knowledge on the uninformed. He erupts into a frantic, and quite frankly violent, explanation of each of the stages of the curse. Dougie ends his juicy monologue by pulling down his eyelid to reveal a spot of blood on the white of his eye just below the iris. This mark is the final stage before falling victim to Mara's deadly curse. Once marked, the next time you fall asleep, you're dead.

It's this exact scene when Mara completely lost me. I'm generally pretty forgiving when it comes to suspending disbelief. Being a fan of horror, I almost feel like that's a requirement if you intend to enjoy the genre. I don't usually nitpick and dwell on things like bad acting, cheesy dialogue, poor lighting and plot holes. But I couldn't allow myself to get over how forced and unrealistic this whole scene played out. All of a sudden I became hyper-aware that I was watching a movie. What I mean is, I was fully cognizant that I was watching actors reciting lines of dialogue in front of a camera. I even became conscious of the entire crew behind the camera! In fact, I felt like I was behind the camera watching the movie get shot in real-time - surely an result induced by Purple Lights.

Needless to say, I struggled to watch the rest of the movie. All I wanted to do was turn off the TV and drift off to sleep. And yes, the irony of wanting to fall asleep during a movie that's all about staying awake to stay alive wasn't lost on me. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Mara is a terrible movie. There are some moments that are beautifully shot. I wasn't necessarily even bothered by the cliche moments and scenes ripped (homage?) straight out of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Se7en, and every crime movie that features a wall of newspaper clippings and photos linked together with yarn and thumbtacks.

Even the big reveal when Kate puts all the pieces together and discovers the root cause of what triggers the curse is lackluster. I had long stopped caring by that point. Not to mention, the reason for the curse would literally put every single person on the face of the Earth at risk... but I digress. Overall, I'm disappointed this experience didn't live up to my expectations. Most of all, I'm disappointed I wasted a full bowl of Purple Lights (topped with kief) on a movie that would've been better reserved for something worthier.

How about you? Have you watched Mara or tried Purple Lights? What are your thoughts? Did you have a similar experience? Please leave a comment and let me know. And of course, don't forget to follow Bloody High on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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