Motherly – It may not be entirely new, but it is devilishly creative

FrightFest and Raven Banner present Motherly; book festival tickets here.

Motherly will be released on digital November 16th.

Stephen King once wrote, “There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.” I think we all know this to be true. After all, mothers will often go to the ends of the earth to protect their kids. But, this can be rooted in blind love; the mother’s choices, held in a misguided view of a child’s perfection. Sometimes, mothers will even sacrifice their own happiness, relationship or marriage to ensure their child’s happiness, even if this damages their esteem and life chances. However, sometimes their choices are rooted in the child’s need for safety, particularly when a mother flees a family home due to the actions of a spouse or partner. And it’s here where Craig David Wallace’s brand new horror/thriller Motherly begins.

Kate (Lora Burke) and her pre-teen daughter, Beth (Tessa Kozma), live alone in an isolated farmhouse surrounded by woods. Their lives, held in an impenetrable bubble of safety following the imprisonment of Kate’s husband for murder. But, this was no random killing, as his victim was his daughter’s childhood friend—the place of her murder; the family home, during a game of hide-n-seek. Kate was the one to find him standing over the child’s body, knife in hand, and was also the one who turned him in, an action Beth has yet to forgive. But, as mother and daughter sit under police protection in the secluded house, darkness festers; the families past about to invade their present as their safety is suddenly threatened.


As the tension builds, we are treated to flashbacks of the murder; all seen from the perspective of Kate. But, how accurate are these memories? And are there still hidden and long since buried events that evade our view? Here, Wallace craft’s a tense, mystery driven ride as we slowly unpick the past just as Kate and Beth find their future threatened. Here, the beautifully staged narrative plays with themes of parenthood, protection and deceit as it twists and turns in the lead up to the film’s explosive finale.

Wallace lulls the audience into a false sense of security throughout, playing with our preconceived ideas of the classic home invasion thriller while subverting these and twisting them to his own needs. At one point, he even toys with the classic blood lust of the revenge movie only to pull the rug from under us. The result is a picture that skirts the boundaries between psychological thriller and horror, the slowly unwinding ball of thread before us both complex, tangled and frayed. However, this also means Motherly may leave some audience members bewildered. The narrative embracing a range of classic thriller themes, while never providing the time needed to flesh these out fully. But, the film’s payoff is horrifying, clever, and engaging for those willing to embark on the ride—the final twist, delicious and terrifying in construct and delivery.


But that also leaves us with a complicated question, is Motherly a psychological thriller? Or is it a classic mother, child horror? Or maybe it’s a home invasion thriller with a horrific conclusion? The truth is, Motherly is all three as it proudly plays with sub-genre boundaries and, as a result, offers us something not entirely new but devilishly creative. To say any more would only ruin the delicious twists Motherly has in store. So my advice is simple, put Motherly at the top of your November viewing list. You won’t be disappointed, and you may be surprised by what Wallace has to offer.

Rating: 3 out of 5.