You Are Not My Mother (2021)  [Women in Horror Month 2022]

Following the disappearance and return of her mother, a teenager decides she needs to know more about her mother and her family by extension. As she searches for information and herself, she also is tormented at school where other girls believe her family maybe more than she thinks. 

Written and directed by Kate Dolan, this Irish horror tale is one that takes its time setting up the characters involved, the locations, and how life is there for those involved. Then, it turns things up a few notches and becomes a horror film about family and the supernatural that works on many fronts. The story has layers of background and more obvious things going and this is how it builds into something that engrosses the viewer and makes them want more. The film here has not only a deep background for its characters, but also an understand of its characters and of how to showcase them to the viewer to really bring them into the story and make them care about what happens to Char and her mother. 

The cast here really get to have something to work with and it shows. The performances are excellent across the board with no real exception to mention. On the stronger side of things, lead Hazel Doupe does fantastic work as Char. She gives her depth and shows that this teenager has something to fight for and she is ready for this fight, but not without a few hiccups here and there. She’s complex character and Doupe plays her with layers of emotions and intelligence. The work shown here by Doupe is something to be remembered. Playing her mother is Carolyn Bracken who gives the kind of performance that steals scenes over and over. She shows that something is off with the titular mother without downplaying her pain and her emotions and without overdoing it. With this kind of character, many actors would have gone to 11, but she kept things dialed just right throughout the film to make her presence one that is felt even when she isn’t on screen. Her work plays amazingly well with Doupe’s and the two of them show what acting can be like with emotions and authenticity.  

In terms of feeling and look of the film, the cinematography by Narayan Van Maele sets the tone. The greyness of the Irish countryside in late October is downright chilly on screen. The way the camera allows the settings to be part of the story as more than just background helps set a tone to the story and helps get the characters in the right frame of mind as well as the viewers. The images here linger when they need to and move along at a good pace at the same time. 

You Are Not My Mother is a modern folktale that takes place in a picturesque place that is turned into a chilly location by way of weather, images, and story. The film takes a strong script and turns it into something that must be watched more than once to be fully appreciated and showcases strong performances, especially from Hazel Doupe and Carolyn Bracken. A strong film all around and one that needs to be paid attention to.