Film
1:09 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Walker's Three To See: <i>Martha Marcy May Marlene</i>

KCUR's Steve Walker shares his top movie picks of the week.

Kansas City, MO – Elizabeth Olsen makes an impressive film debut as the title character, a scarred and skittish young woman whose different names reflect her time both in and out of a strange cult in upstate New York. She arrives on the doorstep of her estranged sister (Sarah Paulson) having just fled the Manson-like clan headed by a pater familias (John Hawkes) who is weirdly charismatic but clearly bonkers. It appears she spent her formative teenage years under the spell of this man, who manipulates his young, attractive acolytes into sexual free-for-alls and, in the creepiest scene, the random terrorization of someone who had the bad luck to live near the cult's deceptively bucolic spread. Writer and director Sean Durkin's movie has the pace of lava running in slow-motion. Why go for big cinematic fireworks when you're this good at creating the subtle bubbling of intense paranoia? Commit to the entire film, despite its underwhelming theatrics, and it will linger in your head for days afterward.