Move over, It. There's a new, genuinely terrifying and all-around amazing horror film in town.
Darren Aronofsky's latest picture, the much-anticipated mother!, is a certifiably batshitcrazy delight that makes the likes of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan (both of which I adore) look like entries out of the Shirley Temple filmography. It has the feel of a pet project that could have only come to fruition after the filmmaker first proved himself through less idiosyncratic fare.
Without revealing too much in the way of spoilers, mother! opens on Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) and Him (Javier Bardem), a couple leading a reasonably picturesque life, even though their creaky, isolated house, sorely in need of renovation, is making her uneasy and he's got a wicked case of writer's block. One evening, a Man (Ed Harris) drops by. Much to Mother's chagrin, Him invites this stranger, who's in rough physical shape, to spend the night.
The following morning, a Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), Man's wife, strolls in. Again, Him welcomes with open arms, while Mother is decidedly uneasy about the visitors. Before long, the children of Man and Woman make their entrance and then a whole host of other shit goes down that leaves Mother all the more antsy and Him all the more elated by the attention.
Since this is an Aronofsky picture, you know there are no limits of audacity to which the filmmaker will take this set-up but even his prior films considered, mother! descends into a hell-like direction that is heaps more rattling and violent than even the wildest of expectations.
mother! is a scrumptious feast for Aronofsky fans in so many regards. While not quite as awe-inspiring as his work on Black Swan, Matthew Libatique's photography on the picture is sublime and the proceedings are also a master class in sound mixing and editing. While the latter half of the film is glorious in its unabashed madness, I found the mother! especially riveting early on, as the filmmaker slowly packs the picture with tension and provides his stellar cast with characters and dialogue worthy of their immense talents.
Lawrence, bewildered and exasperated, and Bardem, intense and irascible, have never been better and Pfeiffer is a fabulous, scene-stealing hoot. While I'm skeptical mother! will have the greatest of box office legs or resonate with an Academy notoriously cool on horror cinema, it would be awesome to see all or any of these actors make an awards season run this year.
Right on the same level as Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan (and this year's other great chiller, It Comes at Night), mother! is an absolute must-see for fans of Aronofsky, his cast and horror pictures in general. CinemaScore be damned!