You Are Not My Mother follows a girl who suffers not only the bullies at school, but a mother who appears to be...worse than her normal self, which wasn't all-that-great to begin with. As her mother's issues grow more disturbing, her grandmother seems to be aware of what's going on, and how it links to their dark past.
[This movie was viewed on Vudu via paid rental at the time of this review.]
You Are Not My Mother Review
You Are Not My Mother (hereby referred to as YANMM) plays in the vibe of the slow-burn atmospheric pieces that have saturated the genre of late. That isn't to say that's a bad thing. While these films are known for being more subtle and nuanced in their horror, they are also notorious for being more relative through their symbolism and linger in the mind far after the movie is over. YANMM falls into the more successful side of this type of film, managing to tell a relatable story of pain within the relationship of daughter and mother, as well as the isolation found within a disjointed home. While it isn't as strong as the cornerstones that defined this reinvigorated style, it holds more palpable atmosphere and depth than recent entries of a similar ilk.
The strength of the film, as is often the case in stories like this, comes from its performances, which are great all the way down. The performances of the daughter, Char (Hazel Doupe), and the mother (Carolyn Bracken), obviously stand out above the rest, eating up a majority of the screen time. Their dynamic defines the intensity of the film, both in its horror and more relatable elements. The grandmother, father, and waffling friend aren't to be dismissed either. The grandmother's understated position as the concerned, yet disconnected matron of the home keeps the intrigue high, as the opening scene sets the tone for character and we know it is there lingering throughout the transformation of the mother.
**Minor SPOILERS on the type of folklore explored in the movie**
The story doesn't deviate much from the changeling concept, other than focusing on a parent, whereas the mythology usually focuses on children. The folklore has been explored recently with one of my favorite modern horror films, The Hallow, as well as the effective and above-average The Hole in the Ground. Both focus on the child doppelganger aspect, but The Hallow approaches the narrative with an equal paternal and maternal perspective. While the mythos feels familiar in its bare bones to these two films, the Freaky Friday switch with the child and mother is unique and weaves the tale much differently. This simple deviation is enough to give YANMM plenty of originality and depth to explore on its own.
Despite transformation and creature-like elements being involved in the plot, there is a lack of significant creature feature or body horror elements. The film thankfully didn't boast or promise such things, so it wasn't much of a disappointment. This was clearly a character/human experience piece, and it achieves that effectively. The disturbing and "freaky" moments we do get are effective, crescendoing to a finale that was impactful in my eyes.
It is a slow burn through and through without a ground-breaking climax. This is subtle horror done well, but not epically so. YANMM is a movie a respect for its craft and symbolism, but won't probably be something I am quick to recommend to horror fans on a whim. It does require patience and a frame of mind to absorb its progression, but I believe it is worthy of such patience and attentiveness.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 6/10
Film Quality: 7/10