The Secret of Marrowbone

A creepy house mystery shot in picturesque northern Spain but set in 1969 small-town America, with a mainly British cast and a silly title, this is probably aimed at the Young Adult audience who might find some excitements in the dynamic of an older brother left in charge of his siblings after their Mom has passed away.

You see, if they tell anyone their mother has died, the authorities will take the Marrowbone children into care. So their plan is to pretend she’s still alive but bed-ridden in their tumbledown farm house, until the oldest boy (George Mackay) is 21 and can become legal guardian to his brood, a rebellious teenage boy, a curious girl and a little kid.

They are helped in their plan by the pretty local librarian (Ana Taylor Joy) but threatened by the arrival of their long-lost father, a baddie from whom they fled to this place several years ago for reasons that eventually become clear.

It’s told in flashback, mainly because it doesn’t have the courage the tell it straight, and the mendacious nature of the narrative becomes the main attraction rather than anything atmospheric or character-driven.