Matriarch review – gory low budget horror with big ideas

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matriarch is hampered by painful exaggeration and a weak script, but contains some decent special effects work and a wild ending that exceeds its low-budget limitations.

There are no spoilers in this review of the Hulu horror movie Matriarch.

Anyone who’s seen a fair number of horror films won’t be accused of thinking the British countryside is home to crazed cults, gun-wielding peasants and deranged serial killers. matriarch won’t change moviegoers’ opinions of this quintessential horror, in fact it borrows entirely from it as a sinister mystery begins to unfold in a quaint rural village. Ben Steiner‘s low-budget horror film, premiering on Hi this Halloween the office worker Laura (Jemima Rooper) from the big city and plants them in the gloomy nature, where new horrors await them.

The film centers on Laura, an alcoholic who embarks on a destructive path that seems to alienate everyone around her. She hasn’t been home in twenty years, but after an overdose that almost killed her and a call from her mother, she is drawn to this rural village. The mother in question and matriarch of the film title is Celia, played by Kate Dickie (game of Thrones). A nasty woman who caused Laura to flee in the first place. This creepy, controlling mother starts drugging her own daughter as soon as she enters the family home, even letting an old friend of Laura’s accompany her.

After her overdose, Laura begins to bleed black blood and watches as this disease slowly takes over her body. Concerned about her own mortality, she investigates the strange goings on in the village and searches for a cure. The film seems to be trying to replicate The Wicker Man and An American werewolf in London, with folksy horror vibes. Each seems to be hiding a collective secret while harboring their own ailments, and the locals are unnecessarily hostile to Laura at every turn. Unable to bring herself to leave this insidious place, Laura stays close to find out what’s really going on.

The film slowly builds towards this big reveal, with ominous music and drip-feeding clues peppered through the script. but matriarch never really feels like it’s moving towards anything of any substance. The first two-thirds are riddled with soap opera acting and bizarre, mechanical sections of dialogue. Laura seems to go from pleasant to outraged in a matter of seconds, while dramatic turns slip into the speech with no real structure. This stilted approach spoils any clever nuances within the film and any real positives.

matriarch has no memorable jump scares and lacks any foreshadowing, but it does have its moments of brutal gore. Cruel body horror is woven into this script and some decent special effects shots towards the end. While the over-the-top, sensational finale will appease horror fans who choose to stick with this film to the bitter end, it doesn’t save the film overall. Steiner tries to infuse big ideas into a small project that’s inherently brave, and we definitely need more low-budget British horror films overall, but it can’t escape its obvious flaws.

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Additional reading Matriarch review – gory low budget horror with big ideas

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