You Are Not My Mom was reviewed out of the Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition, the place it made its world premiere.
Director Kate Dolan’s 2017 horror brief, Catcalls, sees a sexual predator get a brutal, bloody comeuppance on the claws of his female-turned-feline targets. Far more than an efficient cautionary story for would-be perverts, the award-winning challenge afforded the Irish filmmaker the popularity and clout to carry her impressed model of frights to a feature-length film. In You Are Not My Mom, she wastes no time doing simply that, delivering an successfully unsettling horror effort with gripping performances.
Impressed by Irish folklore, particularly changelings – legendary, human-like creatures swapped for folks kidnapped by nefarious forces – the movie begins with a child, a small ring of fireside, and a middle-aged lady armed with a spellbook. With out spoiling an excessive amount of, this unsettling prologue concludes with the toddler crying and embers rising into the night sky to kind the movie’s title card.
Upon planting the seeds of our subsequent nightmare, the film makes a pointy pivot, leaping forward in time and introducing us to 3 generations of Irish ladies, all residing underneath the identical roof. We meet Char (Hazel Doupe), a high-school pupil who’s not solely navigating the anticipated trials of teenagehood, but additionally coping with her mom, Angela, who appears to have checked out.
Performed by Carolyn Bracken, Angela seems to endure from psychological sickness – and/or probably one thing extra sinister. She has “down” days, which discover her sleeping tons and neglecting her parental duties, like conserving the kitchen stocked with necessities. Then there’s the young-ish grandmother (Ingrid Craigie,) a caring however distracted matriarch who doles out lunch cash and protecting talismans in equal measure. She’s additionally the identical lady, albeit a number of years older, who perhaps set a child ablaze on the movie’s begin.
Char will get probably the most display screen time, and deservedly so. Doupe’s efficiency is extremely layered, as she balances a strained house life, college’s tough social dynamics – which embody an more and more threatening bully drawback – and her, er, advanced relationship along with her mother. Every circumstance introduces totally different challenges for Char and, whereas she reacts to every with the anticipated nervousness and despair, she additionally injects these emotions with situational nuance. Doupe exudes palpable concern within the face of her bully, in addition to when coping with her mom’s progressively disturbing habits. Nevertheless it’s by no means a recycled, one-size-fits-all concern, however somewhat a posh, shifting emotion that we really feel proper alongside along with her.
Talking of shifting, it is Angela’s erratic, typically unsettling actions that not solely assist draw out Doupe’s sensible efficiency, however lend the film its extra conventional scares. Following that scary opening, You Are Not My Mom principally settles right into a slow-burn groove, save for the modifications manifesting in Angela. Char’s typically troubled existence ensures a relentless air of rigidity, whereas the movie’s Halloween themes (it takes place throughout the Irish Samhain) and perpetually overcast skies set the temper. Nevertheless it’s Angela, reworking in methods we can’t spoil right here, that unmistakably slots this one into the horror style.
Doupe’s efficiency is extremely layered.
All that stated, in the event you’re in search of a very terrifying flick to take up everlasting residence in your nightmares, this is not it. You Are Not My Mom packs a couple of frights for positive – together with a pair that might elicit an audible gasp from extra unsuspecting viewers – however it’s total extra unsettling than scary.
The movie additionally suffers from some pacing points and a few uneven character moments that undermine the in any other case wonderful performances. Once more, it takes its time constructing dread and elevating rigidity, establishing a cadence that principally works nicely for the story. When its massive reveal hits about an hour in, nonetheless, there is a sense that the movie’s speeding to the end line to wrap issues up. A principal character meets an premature demise, however their destiny is barely acknowledged earlier than the story speeds towards its conclusion. Equally awkward is an meant act by that aforementioned bully; whereas the character’s beforehand established as a menacing ache within the ass – and probably a pyromaniac – her remaining scene stretches the bounds of believability.
This Irish horror flick facilities round a teen, Char (Hazel Doupe), who is definite one thing is flawed along with her mom, Angela (Carolyn Bracken). Angela lately went lacking for some time, however when she return, Char seen a number of small variations along with her character. What occurred to her mom?