mother! is a psychological horror film by Darren Aronofsky that has a Biblical/supernatural undertone.
The plot follows a young woman, simply known at mother (Jennifer Lawrence) whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple, their sons, and more.
My non-spoiler review is this is a slow burn horror film that will push a lot of buttons, depending how religious you are. It’s full of symbolism, and strange scenes that swirl into a cacophonic mixture of visuals and clausterphobia. You’ll either really like this or really hate it…there doesn’t seem to be much in between.
Keep scrolling for my slightly spoiler-ish review…
On the surface, mother! is a psychological thriller centered on a young woman who awakens in her house to a normal day that quickly goes awry. Him (Javier Bardem), her husband, is cold and distant.
A man (Ed Harris) arrives unannounced, followed by his woman/wife (Michelle Pfeiffer in one of her best roles). The two continuously give into their base instincts and alternately bully and ignore mother.
Then their sons arrive, fight, and one is killed by the other. A wake follows with even more complete strangers arriving in the house, many who take advantage of mother and refuse to follow rules.
Finally mother has a complete breakdown, and torches everything, leaving only Him as a survivor.
It does work as a horror film with a slightly supernatural tone, as is.
But Aronofsky constructed the film as an allegory to the Book of Genesis from the Bible. mother is Mother Earth; Him is God. The man and woman are Adam and Eve, and their sons are Cain and Abel.
The house and surrounding land are the Garden of Eden, and the torching of it represents the Bibilical flood that wiped the land clean and allowed for a fresh start.
On that level, mother! is a horrific representation of corruption and violence in relation to God and Creation. The movie starts and ends with a burned mother, a symbolism of how things get so out of control that God’s only way to fix it is to burn the slate clean and start over.
Whether you take it as a straight horror film, or you add in the Biblical elements, mother! is a film that is polarizing. It’s far from your typical horror film, but it also takes liberty with the genre.
I liked mother! but I didn’t love it. It’s worth a watch if you like experimental and metaphorical horror.
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Rating: 7 out of 10 stars
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Kristen Wiig
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