Mara is a new horror movie on Netflix. This time the topic is sleep paralysis so whatever you do, you cannot fall asleep. We’ve seen it before, but the sleep demon “Mara” actually works pretty well. 

Mara is out on Netflix now and if you like sleep and nightmare focused horror movies, you should give this one a chance. It definitely is not without its problems, but it does also have a lot of good elements.

The issues mostly revolved around unnecessary plot elements such as a sleep-deprived husband having an affair to give the wife a motive to kill him (even if they do try to tie it into the ending). I mean, come on, that’s just lazy writing. Also, what medical professional wears the most gorgeous “evening out on the town” make-up to work a night shift. No one!

However, this movie does also star Olga Kurylenko in the lead and Javier Botet as the sleep demon. They are two reasons to watch this movie.

Javier Botet is “Mara”

The title character (and sleep demon) “Mara” is played by Javier Botet. This alone is enough reason to watch the movie. You may not know who Javier Botet is, but you’re bound to have watched him on screen before.

He’s been in a whole slew of popular horror movies. Apart from Doug Jones (Gehenna), Javier Botet is one of the best body horror and horror movement actors.

Also read: Do you know Javier Botet, the Horror Movement Actor?

In Mara, he plays a part throughout the movie. But, of course, we do get to see more and more of him as the story progresses. After all, that’s the way it goes with this horror movies. Never reveal it all at once.

The lead character, is Kate Fuller, a criminal psychologist. She’s portrayed by Olga Kurylenko who does a very good job. The character isn’t entirely well-written since she is pretty damn stereotypical.

Still, Olga Kurylenko manages to create a character better than what the script outlines. But why the name “Kate Fuller” when she’s portrayed by someone with a slight accent. The US is a country of immigrants, so why this insistence on using very American or British sounding names. Just a pet peeve of mine, so I had to mention it.

Mara (2018) Horror on Netflix review

The horrors of sleep

Mara is far from the first movie to focus on the dangers (and horrors) of falling asleep. The most popular franchise in this subgenre has one of the most iconic horror villains; Freddy Krueger.

A Nightmare on Elm Street has become a classic horror movie and the sleep horror subgenre is alive and well. These years, it’s not Freddy Krueger chasing people, but rather tends to be more of a demonic force.

Dead Awake is another recent sleep horror movie which also focused on sleep paralysis in particular. Personally, I feel Mara is a better sleep paralysis horror movie. But it could have been even better if the story had been tighter!

Also read: Our review of Dead Awake here >

The best example of sleep paralysis working perfectly in a story was The Haunting of Hill House, the mind-blowingly brilliant Netflix series by Mike Flanagan.

In Mara, the crime and mystery elements become a bit too stereotypical, which may make for some nice conclusions. But it does also feel way too forced in many cases.

Watch Mara on Netflix now

Mara was directed by Clive Tonge and this is actually his feature film debut. He also came up with the story for the movie along with screenwriter Jonathan Frank.

While Mara does have quite a bit of room for improvement, I think these two could do great things in the future.

If you’re a fan of the sleep horror niche, then Mara is definitely the kind of movie, you should give a chance. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. At the very least, you’ll be entertained by Javier Botet’s crazy horror movements!

Mara is out on Netflix in the US from January 5, 2019. More countries are bound to follow soon!


Director: Clive Tonge
Cast: Olga Kurylenko, Craig Conway, Javier Botet, Rosie Fellner, Lance E. Nichols


A criminal psychologist, Kate Fuller, is assigned to the murder of a man who was seemingly strangled in his sleep by his wife. As Kate digs into the mystery of an ancient demon which kills people in their sleep, she experiences the same petrifying symptoms as all previous victims. 

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
Latest posts by Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard (see all)