Mother is a short film from Sick Chick Flicks that is currently doing the film festivals and convention circuit. The film is directed and produced by Christine Parker and based on a story by Amber Teachey. Amber Teachey is also one of the two leads in the film.
The basic storyline of the film is stripped down and lean. It’s also, to some degree, familiar territory. The film centers around the relationship, or some might say lack thereof, between a teenage girl (Teachey) and her mother (Catherine Mattson). What relationship we do see on film is one of a highly destructive nature.
Mother is not the type of mother that you would want. She quite openly displays resentment and contempt for her daughter. The underlying feeling in Mattson’s performance is of a woman who blames her daughter’s birth for the failures of her life since that birth. That resentment and contempt manifests itself in abuse that is mental, emotional, and physical. By the time we get a peek into this period of their lives, the daughter is well past ready to escape. This escape comes in the form of a boyfriend with an offer of a new home and safe refuge.
The night in question arrives and events do not go quite as planned. The remainder of the film follows the fallout of that night. Unfortunately, the details of the second half of the film are difficult to discuss without revealing too much.
Mother is not an easy film to watch. The performances by the film’s two leads are powerfully raw and both the directing and post production work create a visual feel to the film that only amplifies this. There were moments when I found myself uncomfortably shifting in my seat while viewing it. The reason for this is that Mother seeks out the horror for its edge in the most uncomfortable genre of all; real life. The odds are that you know these two people or have known them at some point in your life and, as such, the story strikes at places deeper and darker than the average slasher horror or the monster of the minute.
An additional edge comes through in the finished product that comes from its source. Story co-creator Amber Teachey is here metaphorically slashing her wrists and bleeding out onto the screen. When speaking at the screening I attended, she discussed that the inspiration for the story itself was largely autobiographical. The life she depicts on screen was inspired by what was once her own. And, again, that edge comes through powerfully in the onscreen performance.
Catherine Mattson plays the title character with a very gritty and dark tone in her performance. She radiates disappointment with her life’s lot and absolute resentment towards the source that she blames for that disappointment. You can very easily hate her, but at the same time, in one scene where Mother admits to her pastor that she cannot not be this way, there’s a subtle undertone in the performance that almost makes you feel sorry for a damaged human being who knows how damaged she is and seemingly cannot change.
Mother is still a horror short though and it does move into the supernatural by its second half. Or maybe it doesn’t. The supernatural elements of the film are neither heavy-handed nor overdone. The result being that you might be equally correct in interpreting it as the supernatural or as a fragile mind slipping the grip of reality. Even the ending is, in hindsight, open to two distinct interpretations; as different from each other as night and day.
And the ending…
There’s a word of warning that needs to be said before watching Mother for the first time. It is a film very much worth watching, but do not expect the obvious story arc from start to finish. The ending caught me off guard. So much so that I couldn’t even review it properly that night on the screening cards passed out at the event I was at.
There are certain patterns in storytelling that most stories follow and that most people are conditioned to following. When you get A, B and C, well, you then expect D. Maybe someone throws a curveball at you and they substitute D with 4, but even then D and 4 are close enough that the seeming difference from what you expected VS what you got are actually close enough that you still immediately accept it. Certainly Mother seems to be setting you up for an expected and, some might anticipate, justified ending. Mother instead gives you something else entirely in its last act. And what it ultimately gives you is not a bad thing.
Mother is a film that deserves to be seen. It’s also a film that benefits from multiple viewings in part because it’s a film that in its second half is so open to interpretation but in much larger part because it is in fact a very good film. And it’s a film that deserves discussion and thought afterwards as well.
Mother is currently being screened at festivals and conventions with a DVD to be released soon. The film is being distributed through Creepy Cherub distributors, a subsidiarity of Archangel Productions.
Sick Chick Flicks Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/SickChickFlicks
Mother’s Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/thefilmMOTHER?fref=ts
Christine Parker – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2034378/?ref_=tt_ov_dr
Amber Teachey – http://www.amberteachey.com/
Catherine Mattson – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3932248/
Creepy Cherub & Archangel Productions- http://www.archangelproductions.org/CreepyCherub/CreepyCherubDistribution.html