Matriarch (2022) Movie Review – Disturbing British folk horror will make you squirm but not scream
The scream-inducing British folk horror that will make you squirm, but not scream.
It’s not hard to justify not having a vacation in the British countryside. The scenery isn’t lovely – it actually is – but if an avid movie buff, you may be cautious in the event that you’ve seen horror films such as The Werewolf in London, An American Werewolf in London, The Hallow, and the Wicker Man (the original and not the shoddy remake).
The films are worth watching, however, if we believe that, the country is an enticing spot and is not the ideal place to rest or relax. It is also a place for beautiful walks in the countryside! Blood cults, murderous locals, and dark supernatural forces are some aspects that aren’t going to be mentioned in travel guides however, over the years, numerous filmmakers have warned us of such dangers in the films they’ve made available to us. The matriarch is one of those films.
Written and produced by Ben Steiner, this latest film in the folk-horror genre follows an innocent young woman Laura (Jemima the Rooper) leaving the city to live in the countryside with her mother who is estranged from Celia (Kate Dickie). After arriving at her new place of residence, Moorlinch Greinton, she soon regrets the decision to go back to the home that she grew up in as her mother grows increasingly deranged and village residents begin to show signs of being shockingly unusual.
What’s happening? We’re not going to reveal much of the plot for fear of giving away important spoilers. But, I will inform the reader of the fact that Laura and her mother aren’t in a happy relationship. In addition, I’ll inform you that Laura’s father who died is to blame for the terrible happenings that occur within the community.
Beyond those superficial plot points, I’m hesitant to provide more details about the film’s story to you, though I’d like to give an acknowledgment to those who have fears of worms, or a phobia of body horror, as this is a film that should be avoided when I’m speaking directly to yours.
However, it’s one to avoid when you’re looking to find something terrifying to watch on Halloween (or at any season). All the elements of a great horror movie are in this film – horrifying murders, pagan religious cults who have a belief in sacrifice, bizarre creatures lurking in the depths of the garden – there’s no tension, so although you may be a bit frightened in the event that a worm escapes of someone’s nostrils and into your mouth, you’ll not be biting your nails with fear!
If you’re seeking something that is bordering on weird it is possible that you will enjoy this film more than others. The village of the film is filled with bizarre events, so you are sure to be pleasantly surprised when you’re willing to stay with it until the very end. I’m not going to divulge too much in this article, but if I tell you that the scene of an elderly woman feeding the congregation of a church the black liquid that she has poured out of her breasts isn’t exactly the most shocking scene in the film it will be clear that this isn’t a film that could ever be described as being ‘predictable.’
This film is very memorable, although it’s far from an iconic film in the genre. The film is a little creepy and the images are beautifully dark. However, it doesn’t just fail to scare and frightens, it isn’t able to tell a compelling story. If you’re averse to abstract endings, then you’ll particularly be unhappy with Matriarch in that the conclusion of the story isn’t made to provide much insight despite the attempts to provide a rational explanation for the mysterious events in the village before.
Another problem is the film’s absence of background information on the mother-daughter relationship that is at the heart of the story. We learn that Laura’s childhood was traumatizing as well as that she was the main responsible for her trauma. We don’t know the events that transpired between them or what caused it to be so terrible that Laura was able to stay in a separate house from her mom for the duration. We know that she was subject to abuse which was mostly verbal and not physical, but what did her mother have to say that hurt? Why did Laura be forced to hide from her mother as a child?
Despite this displeasure, however, the acting of Rooper as well as Dickie is superb, so we are still able to believe in their relationship, even if we don’t learn a lot amount about either of them. The acting seems less effective elsewhere, but this could be a bit harsh since some of the secondary characters are sloppily written, and their dialogue is less enthralling than that of the two main characters. Since the actors who play the villager characters are required to do nothing more than appear strange and distant, it’s not surprising that their performance could appear to be unnatural however it isn’t.
The matriarch is currently available on the show on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in the UK and is worth a look when you’re in search of something that’s weird. There are more enjoyable folk horrors available like Ben Wheatley’s fantastic “In the Earth, but this isn’t the worst that the genre can offer. The film isn’t great in some places, and the plot sometimes drags but once you discover what’s beneath the surface of Celia’s greenhouse, you’ll be grateful that you chose to watch this squirmy, wormy horror story a shot!
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