31 Days Of Streaming Horror: 'Mother!' And The Horrors Of Uninvited Guests

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October, we'll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today's entry: mother! (2017).


Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Sub-Genre: Houseguest HorrorBest Setting to Watch It In: In a remote house with an unbraced sinkHow Scary Is It?: The first half of the movie isn't scary at all, and then, well...you'll seemother! received mostly positive reviews when it arrived in 2017, but it also got saddled with a dreaded, and almost unheard of, F from CinemaScore – the site that rates audience reaction. In other words, critics kind of liked it, and the general audience loathed it. The problem with CinemaScore tends to be that it rates titles based on expectations – and marketing often plays a big part in that. mother! was advertised as some sort of thriller with potentially supernatural undertones, so a large chunk of the moviegoing public went into the movie expecting just that.

But that's not what this movie is. Yes, it's a horror-thriller, but it's also a cerebral and overly bonkers exploration of toxic masculinity, religious fanaticism, and, most scary of all, uninvited guests. All Jennifer Lawrence wants to do is fix up a big, remote house that she occupies with her much older husband (Javier Bardem), a poet overcome with writer's block. Lawrence's character is highly supportive and constantly encouraging her husband and lavishing praise on him. But her praise isn't enough. He wants more.

And he gets more when an unexpected guest arrives. The guest is a sickly man (played by Ed Harris) who claims to be a huge fan of the poet. He also says he arrived at the house by mistake, thinking it was a place to rent a room. Lawrence's character understands but also wants to send him away, but Bardem is overjoyed at the company and invites the man to stay the night. The next day, the man's boozy wife (Michelle Pfeiffer, turning in a killer performance) arrives unannounced as well. And things get even more unstable when their two sons (Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson) arrive and break out into a fight.

Just when Lawrence thinks she's gotten rid of everyone, even more people start showing up at the house, piling in and destroying all the renovation work she's been doing. As you're watching mother! this scenario plays out as both unnerving and darkly comedic. It also makes you wonder, "Just what the hell is this movie?" And as you're wondering that, things go completely off the rails, and the film descends into an orgy of chaos, violence, and madness.

Now that there's some distance between the "controversy" of the film (advertisements actually tried to play up the audience-loathing by highlighting the film being so shocking), mother! is worth revisiting with a clearer head – or perhaps visiting for the first time if you avoided the film altogether based on the negative buzz. Just don't overstay you're welcome. That's rude.