Mom poster

It is a difficult adjustment for Meredith, neither she nor husband Jared having particularly planned to start a family, but then along came the baby they chose to call Alex, Meredith questioning whether the name suits him along with her own ability to be a mother, desperate for her body to get back to what it was before, to resume the normal routine of her life before this all began, a teacher who is accustomed to handing back responsibility for children at the end of the working day.

Aware she is not coping, that she is distracted when she should be focused on her child’s wellbeing and safety, Meredith wishes her mother were still around to support her, sister Katherine only helping on her terms and offering passive aggressive criticism when she does show up, the rare occasions when she is able to get some rest broken by nightmares and sleepwalking, the escalation of her erratic behaviour concerning Jared.

Mom; Meredith (Emily Hampshire) struggles to cope with baby Alex.

Its world premiere at FrightFest at Glasgow Film Festival, the opening shots of Mom are of an abandoned house, sheets over the furniture, the walls decaying and peeling, water leaking from old pipes and dust dancing in the grey sunbeams which pierce the dirty curtains as insects scuttle across the floor, what was once a home fallen to neglect and disrepair as Meredith feels her mind and body have done, a failure as a mother and a woman.

Directed by Nightmare Radio‘s Adam O’Brien from a script co-written with Game of Death‘s Philip Kalin-Hajdu, Mom sees postpartum depression manifesting in monstrous delusions for new mother Meredith (12 Monkeys’ Emily Hampshire), her patient husband Jared (Midnight, Texas‘ François Arnaud) unable to help her and suggesting time in hospital as “the best of many terrible options,” her deteriorating condition echoing Grace Stewart in her absolute convictions that only she is sane.

Mom; the house is filled with visions of the child who Alex (Christian Convery) might become.

Filled with cribs overflowing with bubbling blood, of Meredith’s suffering as she tries to feed Alex blood-tainted milk, the images, ideas and in particular the performances of the leads cannot but flawed but in the crowded maternity unit of horror built upon the anxieties arising from the unceasing and unreasonable demands and fragility of newborn babies and toddlers from Rosemary’s Baby to El Orfanato, Mom inhabits the lower tier alongside Mama and Monstrous.

Looping like intrusive thoughts, much like depression itself and expressed in the ceaseless scuttling of the digitally added insects which infest Meredith’s mind, the development of Mom is stunted, struggling to move forward, stalled in its ability to build a story around the premise and the tragedy of the situation, a downward spiral of inevitability built around Hampshire’s increasingly dead-eyed stare direct into the camera, wielding a baseball bat à la Wendy Torrance but already defeated rather than defiant.

The Glasgow Film Festival concluded on Sunday 10th March

Mom; Meredith (Emily Hampshire) is distracted as fires burn around her.



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