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

26th August 2021

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

On digital from November 16th.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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 their 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. Here their lives are 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 in 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, and the family’s past is about to invade their present.


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 ride as we slowly unpick the past just as Kate and Beth find their future threatened – the narrative playing with themes of parental protection and deceit as it twists and turns.


Wallace lulls the audience into a false sense of security, playing with the classic home invasion thriller while subverting it to meet his own narrative needs. At one point, he even toys with the classic blood lust of the revenge movie, only to suddenly 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 complex, tangled and frayed. However, this also means Motherly may leave some audience members bewildered as the narrative embraces a range of classic themes that lack space and time. But, the film’s payoff is horrifying, clever, and engaging, and for those willing to jump on the ride, the final twist is delicious and terrifying.

Is Motherly a psychological thriller? A classic mother, child horror? Or a home invasion thriller? The truth is, Motherly is all three as it proudly plays with several horror sub-genres, and while it may not be entirely new, it’s 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.


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