The film opens with some scenes of the of this so called peaceful cult where the women waits for the man to eat and then eat the food.Then we see Elisabeth Olsen quietly leaving the house and then start sprinting toward the woods.From there the audience are brought to Martha trying to cope in the normal world as her sister and brother in law decides to take her in.So is she really safe?Not really.Its just the beginning for Martha to battle against her paranoia.
Martha Marlene is a totally different character Marcy May.We are only shown the Martha Marlene after the cult and was given hints of her childhood. After the cult Martha is very paranoid and solitary.She is seeing things and dreaming stuffs and she couldn't distinguish whether its nothing or real.She doesn't wants to share what happened to her in the cult with her sister and brother in law.She is so damaged that she had forgotten how the normal world works.She walks in casually and sleep beside them when her sister and brother in law is having sex and swimming in the nude.the weird questions she asked them and her weird behaviour keeps her more away from them.
It's through the flash back we get to see how damaged Martha is.Here newly named Marcy May,Martha feels special as everyone pays attention to her including the charismatic Patrick.She finally found a family and feels she belongs to this family.It was a while later we are shown the darker side of the cult as well Patrick.First Marcy may is drugged and was raped by Patrick.The other in the cult told her this was a gift and she is lucky.Then in the woods,Marcy May is forced to kill the kittens brutally.They carried out group sex(which explains why Martha is not shy being naked in front others) and rob houses and stealing the things they need.When a innocent homeowner is killed as he discovered the group stealing in his house causes Marcy May to decide to run away from the cult.
Elizabeth Olsen gives a strong performance as both Martha Marlene and Marcy May.While as Martha she gives a believable performance of a girl who had some traumatic experience and you get to see the innocent Marcy May getting brainwashed.You can feel the emotions from her and you realise she is a troubled soul.She does some bold scenes in her first film itself and that should be applauded.She excels playing the damaged Martha than Marcy May.The scene where she calls her sister,tearing up ,feeling awkward to ask her to get back home is superb.She nails the part conveying fear and paranoia throughout the film.The final scene when she realises she needs help,you can't help to wonder maybe it's too late for help and at the same time you hope the best for her until she opens her mouth to say to her sister 'You're gonna be a terrible mother'.that's where you realise she will be damaged for good.
Sarah Paulson as the sister who takes in Martha also gives a good performance.She wants to help Martha but Martha doesn't wants to open to her and always is shut down whenever she ask about the 2 years Martha was gone.John Hawkes gives a scary performance in the film.When you first see him he is so charming ,singing song to Marcy May and then you get to see his darker side .He is creepy and you can feel why Martha is so afraid of him
The screenplay is one of the major pluses of the film .It is fresh and I like the way Sean Durkin shows us how damaged Marcy May is through the scene where the brainwashed Marcy May uses the exact same words to brainwash another newbie into the cult.The lack of background score in some scenes works and manages to make the audience to feel her loneliness.The ending is not that satisfying.Whether Martha overcomes her fear or not is not shown and the film ends with Martha flashback ,leaving after the man is killed during the invasion.
Best Actress-Elizabeth Olsen
Best Supporting Actor-John Hawkes
Best Original Screenplay-Sean Durkin(maybe)