It’s been said that the most complicated relationship you’ll ever have is with your mother. And that  makes a lot of sense, there’s nothing like it in the world. The person that birthed you is by all accounts your creator, your god, but a god with very human flaws is a hard concept to accepts for a lot of us. it’s a complicated relationship, so it’s no wonder horror movies have been exploiting this connection for so many years to terrifying results. Over the decades we’ve seen movies about mothers fighting to protect their kids, trying to kill their kids, and pretty much everything in between. I wanted to highlight some of those relationship types here to celebrate Mother’s Day but also to remind you to call your mom.

This complicated mother/child relationship is perfectly articulated in the Hitchcock classic Psycho. Norman Bates who kills his mother out of jealousy and then because he is guilt ridden (and insane) he impersonates her. But Mr. Bates doesn’t just take it to the brink, he goes passed it and decides the best and most normal course of action is to, of course, kill any women he finds sexually attracted to out of some misplaced loyalty to her corpse. Norman Bates personifies the id Freud tried to warn us about. You may get upset at her but be grateful this isn’t your relationship with your mother.
Psycho

For a more recent example (and one that’s been made in our lifetime) we can look at one of my favorite films of the last few years Goodnight Mommy. This Austrian indie flick made waves with its clever writing, and tight editing, but at its heart it’s a film about two boys and their relationship with their mother. They’ve been conditioned to trust her their whole lives, but conditioning like that comes from consistency and when their mother’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic they start to question her motives. At age ten what could be more terrifying than not being able to trust your own mother? This is what makes Goodnight Mommy so effective. These boys are isolated in their secluded home with nowhere to go and they’re beginning to question the identity and intentions of the one person in their world they’re asked to never doubt.

Goodnight Mommy

Psycho and Goodnight Mommy both provide good examples of intricate relationships between mother and child and they really highlight how psychologically fulfilling horror films can be. But what happens when your Mom wants to straight cut a bitch? Meet Mrs. Voorhees. It’s a well known fact that Mrs. Voorhees is the killer in the original Friday the 13th. It’s a pretty goofy movie by any standard, but it’s also one of my favorites. Sure, Betsy Palmer plays a super sweet old lady murderer and while the shock value was the true purpose of this twist, the craziest thing about Friday the 13th is that it’s not really that crazy at all. How many of you wouldn’t kill for your child? Of course, are there’s all the gory details of how gruesome it all was. But I’m talking about this base question, would you kill for your child? In defense, revenge, or otherwise. I bet there are a lot more of you saying probably than saying never. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the type of clear cut love only a parent can muster.

P.S. Call your mom.

Friday The 13th

More recently Andy Muschietti’s Mama plays on the emotional attachment two young girls have to a dark entity that becomes maternally protective of them. It’s unfortunate that Mama sort of fell apart in the end, it took away from a really interesting premise. With lots of clever scares with a really haunting tone, Mama is a better movie than it gets credit for.

Mama

So far we’ve looked at horror films that deal with how children see their own mothers, and how mothers can become protective of their kids. But this dynamic bond is probably best portrayed in Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. Amelia played wonderfully by Essie Davis is a stressed out single parent that has to contend with her kid’s substandard behavior. Amelia loves her son Noah, and that love is never in doubt throughout the film, but there are pivotal moments, especially early on in the film where you sort of just know she’s ready to tape him to a wall and call it a day. Obviously there’s so much more to Amelia and Noah’s connection, and throughout The Babadook that relationship takes central stage as the two of them learn to deal with their lives and their grief. It’s only when the two of them have that breakthrough that they can finally heal.

The Babadook

That bond of course is something that is forming well before childbirth. Now, I’m no pregnant lady but I’ve met a few in my day and I bet protecting your unborn child from a scissor whirling psycho is exactly how they’d describe pregnancy. Which brings us to Inside a French home invasion film that isn’t afraid to show you the lengths your mother will go to protect you from harm. That is, before she meets you and learns you’re a bit of a shit. Let’s face it, being a parent is one of the most thankless jobs in humanity. I’m not a bad guy, but I can always be a better son. After all, I’m pretty sure most of our mothers wouldn’t bat an eye to go through what Sarah did if it meant your life. Now stop being a shit, call your mom and tell her you love her.

Inside

Of course then you have Madeline Matheson, who loses her unborn baby and decides to take it to term anyway. As in, she insists on birthing her dead child. Its a horrific situation that’s sadly not all that uncommon. It shows amazing strength and perseverance to face your greatest fear head on that way. But where the shit really hits the fan is when said dead baby miraculously comes back to life and is totally bloodthirsty. I won’t bullshit you guys, Grace isn’t a great movie but it has it’s moments and more importantly it perfectly illustrates how your mother would love you even if you were a cannibalistic zombie baby. Have you called her yet?

Grace

Some of you may be wondering how am I not going to mention Rosemary’s Baby? Of all the stupid shit they let me write in these pieces, a feature about Mother’s Day would be a big fat softball for a mention and I totally wiffed on it. Some of you might think that but perhaps some of you might be wrong. Go back and read the article again, only this time take note of the first letter of the first line and the second letter in the second line and so on and so on to see what it spells. Okay fine, it doesn’t spell anything I’m not Batman, just go watch Rosemary’s Baby, it’s fucking great. And seriously speaking Rosemary’s Baby is a great way to cap this piece. Rosemary is the super mom of the horror genre. Your mom gives you the silent treatment if you don’t call her back, Rosemary accepted her son Adrian, who is the literal spawn of Satan. That’s love. Of course, before that Rosemary does whatever it takes to protect her little bundle of hell from a coven of witches, and so did your mom. Seriously, it takes like five minutes, call her.

Rosemary's Baby

Writing this piece really made me grateful that my relationship with my mother is so simple. I think about all the things my mom has done for me over the years; all the stress I’ve put her through. I wasn’t a bad kid, but it’s natural for a child to make their parents worry. It’s called being a teenager, and I sit here thinking about it now. Of all things, it’s always been super obvious to me that my love of horror movies is directly linked to my own mother’s love of horror. When I was a kid we’d stay up way later than I should have watching some really intense horror movies together. As I got older she showed me some of the classics like The Birds, The Exorcist, Evil Dead, etc. My mom was (and is) pretty damn cool. She even reads Modern Horrors! I say that to say this: Being a mother is an incredibly complicated role, and they’re pretty amazing people for it. Give your mom a hug today if you can, and call her if you can’t. Just find a way to tell her you love her. She more than deserves it.

Hi Mom, Happy Mother’s Day! Sorry I’m late to dinner, again.

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