With a hard-R rating and some of the creepiest trailers ever, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! arrives in cinemas hyped as one of the year’s most audacious horror films. But how scary really is the Jennifer Lawrence thriller? Before you head out to see the bizarre wonder, here’s everything you need to know about the distressing movie (without unannounced plot spoilers).
Does mother! Have Jump Scares?
Unlike fellow September horror IT, which uses a lot of jolts, mother! is rather light on the sort of jump scares that will have you leaping out of your seat. However, it does have a couple of moments that come close.
There are two true shockers that stand out. The first involves a gory piece of human anatomy coming out of the toilet as Jennifer Lawrence’s character leans down to look in the bowl that isn’t shocking by itself but scares the character and by proxy the audience. The second happens when Lawrence is left home alone and an already proven violent figure appears suddenly behind her. The scene definitely builds to the reveal, but it still makes quite an impact. Both of these happen in the first hour or so and neither have overly loud sound effects trying to scare you further – but you have been warned
mother! is a Violent Film
Where mother! is most likely to shock is in its violence. The film is rated R “for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language“, and while the latter three are definitely present (there’s use of the c-word and sex is a key part) it’s that first part that really matters. There’s unflinchingly presented violent acts of increasing frequency – the film starts calm but by its end has gone all out – that involve blunt trauma, executions, trampling, stabbings and more. These are all shown in a tasteful but certainly visceral manner.
However, there is one element that is potentially incredibly harrowing that we would like to highlight. As it occurs late in the film and is key to the plot it’s presented as clear text to avoid spoilers. Highlight below to read (at your own risk):
“At the end of the film, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem’s baby is taken by the masses worshipping his latest work. They carry the baby downstairs and ritualistically tear it apart while Lawrence screams in agony.”
mother! is More Intense than Scary
Aside from the violence and jump scares described above, for a lot of the movie mother! isn’t the all-out scare-fest that the trailers have promised but rather a film built on mounting tension and anxiety. As such the sort of horror it trades in is very different to what studio genre films usually offer – this is more about creeping dread a la Rosemary’s Baby than it is crafted set pieces of Annabelle.
That said, in the final act Aronofsky does let rip. He goes to unnervingly dark places psychologically, although even then it’s the intensity of that terror rather than the terror itself that makes mother! so assaulting. It’s not for the faint of heart and taps into a more underlying sense of horror than mainstream movies tend to, but if you can handle a few gruesome moments, you should survive.
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