It’s my belief that truly frightening horror is able to tap into several levels of consciousness, and Kate Dolan’s YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER goes DEEP.
The week before Samhain, shy and bullied teen Char (Hazel Doupe) finds her mother, Angela (Carolyn Bracken), acting more erratically than usual. Angela disappears without a trace overnight, then reappears suddenly – disheveled, shaken, and without explanation about where she was. While Char and her uncle Aaron (Paul Reid) struggle to piece together what happened, Angela starts acting more and more unlike herself, almost as if she’s “in disguise” as the perfect mother. As Samhain approaches, a frightening family secret is revealed and Char finds herself having to fight for both of their lives.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this film! Every frame of Dolan’s feature debut is just so goddamn lovely, and it’s thick with atmosphere and brilliant details. There are just so many layers here! MOTHER moves seamlessly from the horrors of being a teenage girl to the dread of mother/daughter strife and family relationships – straight into some gnarly body horror, with all of it in a spooky, atmospheric Irish folklore wrapper.
Both Doupe and Bracken deserve all the awards for their amazing performances and chemistry, and while not particularly splatter-y, this film does feature some pretty fantastic practical F/X. Also, I never want to be in Ireland on Halloween! Or maybe I do …
It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten completely immersed in a horror film, and MOTHER is one I don’t think I’ll ever be able to escape.