Words are what Jamie Marks is looking for in this film. The words that come to mind when I think about Jamie Marks is Dead are smart, spooky, scary and I’m still finding more. If there’s one thing writer/director Carter Smith is able to tackle with this film, it’s tone, something that far too many directors take for granted these days. With an edgy script, that challenged this snobby, book nerds head; this film took on a plethora of complex ideas and created an eerily intriguing world that maintained a beautifully creepy tone that has me looking for the right words to properly describe.


  • Director/Writer: Carter Smith
  • Producers: Alex Orlovsky, Hunter Gray, Jacob Jaffke, Omri Bezalel, Carter Smith
  • Principal Cast: Cameron Monaghan, Noah Silver, Morgan Saylor, Madisen Beaty with Judy Greer and Liv Tyler

Sundance Synopsis:

Based on the novel One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak, Jamie Marks Is Dead is a love story, infused with elements of horror and the supernatural. In a wintry small town, the body of a teenager named Jamie Marks is found by the river. Adam, the star of his cross-country team, becomes fascinated with Jamie—a boy nobody really knew or interacted with. Carter Smith (his short film, Bugcrush, won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking in 2006) creates an atmosphere that is both gentle and creepy amid the stark, snowy wasteland of dilapidated barns and rusted iron bridges. A poetic, metaphoric tale of sexuality and difference, Jamie Marks Is Dead is about the choices one boy must make to help another free himself and accept his fate.

The Good:

  • The Tone: As previously mentioned, maintaining a mysterious, smart, spooky tone for 100 minutes is not easy feat and something far too many director seem to give up on. From start to finish, this film knew exactly what it was and held strong to it. It is potent in all ways, it forces it’s viewers to pay attention and never gives them anything for free. You could feel the cold penetrating off the screen as the film constantly asked you nicely to stay on what felt like a dangerous ride.
  • Cameron Monaghan and Noah Silver: Monaghan jumped out of the new-comers pack at last years Sundance as a solid actor in King’s of Summer and this year he solidifies that it’s in fact talent that’s taking him to far. He’s got that, every guy look and yet he brings so much to a character. Noah Silver has now done this same with his unabashed, brave and perfectly “off” portrayal of Jamie Marks. Monaghan and Silver’s fascinating dynamic between one another is what truly makes this film both loving and creepy as all hell.

The Bad (Or Rather the Challenge):

  • Not Widely Accessible: This is simply not a film for everyone, far too many people look for fast-food at the movies and this is Filet Mignon with some kind of fancy sauce you’ve never heard of before. Though it certainly shows off Smith’s abilities, along with Darren Lew’s (Cinematographer), Amy Williams (Production Designer), François-Eudes Chanfrault’s (Composer) and the rest of the teams work, it’s very much a film lover’s film, that I have a feeling will be remembered later as the film that started Smith’s career.
  • Glasses on Noah Silver: My one big complaint. How do you expect me not to think HARRY POTTER with that styling and those glasses on Noah Silver?

The Overall:

This is an eery, effective film and one that shows off an extremely talented cast and crew that without a doubt is going places. This film has the ability to creep under your skin and chill you to the core while still being filled with beauty and love.

Rating: 8.5/10