Jamie Marks Is Dead
Directed by Carter Smith
No one seemed to care about Jamie Marks until after his death. Hoping to find the love and friendship he never had in life, Jamie’s ghost visits former classmate Adam McCormick, drawing him into the bleak world between the living and the dead.
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★★★★★ review by nathaxnne walker on Letterboxd
That which is abandoned, that which is unsettled, that which is not allowed to rest. //un-homed/un-housed/unheimlich// Jamie Marks Is Dead creates a purgatorial, floating world where all towns are ghost towns, where everything and everyone is both too alone and not quite alone enough. All that has been and all that shall be coexist uneasily with a tenuous present. Jamie Marks Is Dead takes the basic propositions of the teen murder mystery or paranormal romance and turns it around so that it can haunt itself. Carter Smith is one of the great mostly unheralded horror directors of the 21st Century. Previous to JMID, he adapted Scott Smith's incredible novel The Ruins into a feature film, and before that, the astonishing short, Bugcrush, which if you are into stylish and lingering body horror, I highly recommend. Jamie Marks Is Dead is Carter Smith's finest achievement to date, and it ranks among the very best horror films of this decade. I really love this movie.
★★★★★ review by Casey 🐼 on Letterboxd
I wasn't really prepared for how close to home this was about to hit me at 6 am after a night of no sleep.
I can see why the ratings for this one are so mixed but as I just said, this one really hit me hard. I really identified with this one on a few levels and was pretty much a mess through a greater part of the film.
I wasn't the hugest fan of The Ruins (I'm due for a revisit though) but Carter Smith is a truly interesting director and I wish he had a larger filmography.
Recommended thematically similar (sorta) double feature: Lake Mungo + this
★★★★★ review by J.P. Vitale on Letterboxd
Be forewarned: Carter Smith's "Jamie Marks is Dead" is the kind of macabre melodrama that features a scene of a teenage couple discussing what they want their own respective funerals to be like as foreplay to an aggressive (but clothed) sex scene. If that sounds like your cup of tea and you love the films of Gus Van Sant and Gregg Araki and Cam Archer then continue reading this review. If it doesn't sound like your cup of tea and you hate the films of Gus Van Sant and Gregg Araki and Cam Archer then leave.... Go far, far away from this review.
Carter Smith's "Jamie Marks is Dead" is impeccable, immaculate filmmaking, a grand macabre melodrama with a supernatural bent that plays like a mix of Araki's "Mysterious Skin" and Van Sant's "Restless" (with a slight bit of Archer's "Wild Tigers I Have Known" added for good measure) but, you know, a supernatural version of these movies.
It's an excellent, powerful movie that is currently the 3rd best movie I've seen in 2014 (after "The Strange Little Cat" and "Under the Skin").
The film, which is based on a YA best seller of a different title (though despite the YA roots this is not a movie for kids), is a refreshing and honest look at 3 teenagers: Adam, Gracie and Jamie.
In the beginning of the movie Gracie (a luminous Morgan Saylor, TV's Dana Brody from "Homeland") discovers loner kid Jamie's dead body, hence the title.
Soon Gracie and her boyfriend Adam are "haunted" (if you will) by Jamie's ghost.
Add to that the vengeful ghost of a Lizzie Borden-esque murderess (played by Madison Beaty, doing a good job though it's my least favorite part of the movie) and Judy Greer as the creepy best friend of Adam's mom (Liv Tyler, being all mopey and shit like Liv Tyler usually is) and you get this deliciously dark and delightfully morbid concoction that you forget that "Twilight" and "Divergent" were also based on popular YA books.
★★★★ review by LifeQuest on Letterboxd
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film! It is a very intriguing story. It felt a little like a twist of River's Edge with The Lovely Bones. This film really brings out different aspects of the human experience of what it is like to be a teenager.
★★★½ review by Keith Garrett on Letterboxd
I have a whole new appreciation for this director (Carter Smith) after this film. There is a beautiful and beguiling homoeroticism to the relationship between Jamie and Adam which is very tasteful and understated, and really elevates this movie to another level. As a gay man I really appreciate that and thought it was handled beautifully.
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