Mother’s Day is a time of year when one honors maternal bonds. It’s a day when Mom can enjoy loved ones’ wining and dining her. Or, a day when she can kick off her heels and allow the household to pamper her. No matter how she chooses to celebrate, keep in mind, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
Among the standard traditions that Mother’s Day provides, there are mothers who are less conventional in preference. Existing in a small, shunned demographic are the “Horror Moms”. These are lovely ladies who adore blood and guts compared to pastel bouquets or sappy cards. Pleasing the “Horror Mom” can sometimes be tricky. But sometimes all she needs is a gory good movie with a lot of heart.
“Grace” is a gruesome abomination one can’t turn away from. Inspired by a short film of the same title, this enfant terrible matured into a feature length movie that divided audiences. Due to its presentation, “Grace” remains infamous for making two men faint during its Sundance premiere.
The melancholy opening introduces Madeline and Stephen Matheson. After suffering from two miscarriages, they have finally achieved a successful conception. Hoping for better results than what doctors have provided, Madeline has hired a renowned midwife named Patricia.
One evening, after experiencing a false scare, Madeline and Stephen are driving home. During their return, a reckless vehicle causes them to swerve, resulting in an accident. The aftermath not only leaves Madeline as a widow, but it kills her baby. Despite the tragedy, she carries her fetus to full term, allowing nature to take its course.
The following month, Madeline’s water breaks and she enters Patricia’s care. Surrounded by candles and midwives, Madeline delivers her stillborn in a birthing pool. Next, through Madeline’s tears and begging, the viewer receives the ultimate display of willpower.
Overall, “Grace” is a monster that has a crib all to itself. If one considers Grace’s later actions, one can assume she’s a vampire. After all, her last name could reference Richard Matheson, author of, “I Am Legend.” However, the vampire myth doesn’t apply to her in full.
To verify Grace’s origin is solitary, the scene regarding her introduction provides confirmation. In this particular scene, Madeline introduces her offspring by stating, “It’s Grace.” Due to her tone, and expression, Madeline’s presentation strikes immediate unease. By calling Grace an “it”, the dialogue urges Madeline is a Dr. Frankenstein and Grace is her monster.
Aside from this chilling scene, the movie is fertile with foreshadowing. Specific context refers to the carnivorous moments surrounding Madeline’s strict vegan lifestyle. A blatant example is how the TV plays scenes of animal slaughter. Subtle indicators feature her cat presenting a dead mouse, and her husband’s omnivorous appetite.
While full of metaphors and foreshadowing, this gem’s strongest comment regards the maternal bond. From a satirical viewpoint, it stresses the strength of willpower and determination. If one were to observe “Grace” as a character study, they may notice all characters share a theme. In simplistic terms, each character is unable to achieve their desires without consequences.
“The Guardian” is perhaps the most simplistic movie on this list. Still, I appreciate it no less than the other movies compiled. Based on Dan Greenburg’s novel, “The Nanny”, this adaptation suffered difficulties from the start. In its early stage, it passed hands from Sam Rami to William Friedkin. Later, it underwent rewrites that continued well into shooting.
The finalized concept regards a husband and wife, Katie and Phil, and their newborn. After deciding they need assistance, they review nanny applicants where they meet Camilla. By minor dialogue and actions, Camilla displays a patient temperament, pleasantness, and childcare knowledge.
Without preforming a background check, they hire Camilla, who over time becomes seductive and mysterious. Due to brief incidences, Phil grows wary of her mannerisms. Yet, he remains dismissive until he receives a ghastly voicemail. Due to its haunting message, Phil investigates and discovers Camilla is a child predator.
After he expels Camilla from his home, she returns not long thereafter for a final showdown. While this seems like a suspense movie, darker elements parent it in the horror genre. Dismissing realism, Camilla is a druid who abducts newborns. Once they grow of age, she feeds them to an evil tree. Although one may think I have given away a spoiler, I haven’t. Camilla’s intentions unfold in the first five minutes of the movie.
Without presenting metaphors, or hidden messages, “The Guardian” isn’t secretive about its concept. Its only foreshadowing is a reference to “Hansel and Gretel” and Stephen King’s “It”. Despite this sleeper’s predictability and poor decision making, “The Guardian” delivers some gory fun. Included with its upfront nature are scenes of psychotic animals and Camilla’s hybrid form.
“Mother’s Day” is like the gritty spawn of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “I Spit on Your Grave”. Ever since childhood, I’ve adored this movie. But, not until adulthood was I able to look past the gore and brutality to admire its satirical beauty.
The movie opens at a growth opportunity seminar consisting of unfulfilled and unamused people. At the seminar’s conclusion, a mother figure offers two hippies a ride. Through small talk, Mother reveals she enjoys living away from the hectic city life. More important, she notes TV keeps her connected to the outside world. As a matter of fact, TV is how she learned of the seminar.
Away from society, Mother’s car seemingly stalls where her inbred sons, Ike and Addley, attack. After they decapitate and rape the two hippies, Mother praises their actions. Smiling, she says, “Darlings, you have made your mother very proud.”
Next, the movie introduces three friends: Abby, Jackie, and Trina. Since they all live a long distance apart, they reunite each year to go camping. This outing helps them escape daily stressors and reinforces their bond of sisterhood.
Over the next few scenes, they set camp and relax. By the second night, Ike and Addley ambush the women and take them as prisoners. While in captivity, they undergo mental, physical, and sexual trauma, which Mother instigates. After one of the friends die, the remaining women devise a plan to turn the tables.
“Mother’s Day” comments on the emotional instability developed from watching too much TV. One angle depicts the mental and social detachment a TV addict might experience. The opening scene of disconnected seminar participants supports this concept. A second angle focuses on the consequences of parents using TV to raise their children. Included with this perspective is how TV allows the viewer to do everything from home.
From Mother’s viewpoint, TV provides everything a person needs. It keeps her informed with the outside world and provides her boys with a plethora of opportunities. Home fitness, education, and entertainment are but a few of its gifts, with multiple scenes reinforcing these points. The fitness aspect focuses on home exercise machines, workout magazines, and muscle posters. These depictions indicate the brothers rely on the exercise channel. Also, they suggest how the brothers strive to obtain physical Hollywood standards. To suggest TV education and their mentality, a Sesame Street alarm clock is kept by their bed. Last, the macho toys strewn about their room indicates TV’s suggestion of gender conformance.
As one may tell, I have listed these movies from mild to extreme. Besides the titles I compiled, there are more classics that deserve equal recognition. Since I won’t create an honorable mention section, I will continue with more themed Mother’s Day horror movies next year.
If you prefer book options over movies, please check out my literary blog. I have composed an article, honoring Shirley Jackson for Mother’s Day. Click here to read.