Arguably, there is no bigger transformation in this life than becoming a mother. I’ve heard friends describe it as having your heart running around outside of your body. That sounds terrifying, and there are tons of horror movies out there with themes of all aspects of motherhood. If you ask me, the real horror story is what happens to your body when you get pregnant (I know it’s a beautiful miracle, but it’s also pretty intense). With Mother’s Day coming up, I thought it would be fun to take a look at 5 horror movies with themes about motherhood, pregnancy, or the lack thereof:
1. Proxy (2013) Not Rated
Directed by Zak Parker, Written by Zak Parker and Kevin Donner
Proxy is the story of 3 people who have suffered the loss of a child. Whoof, heavy stuff. I’m going to be honest, it doesn’t get any lighter from here on out. I caught sight of Proxy when it was on Netflix, and I’m glad I gave it the two tries it required to enjoy this little treat. Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013, it received generally favourable reviews but it’s got one of those tricky endings that tends to polarize people.
At the film’s open we are introduced to Esther, quite visibly pregnant, being viciously attacked by an unknown assailant. Her unborn baby is killed in the attack and through her grief over the loss, Esther comes to join a support group. There she is received by like-minded people who may not be what they seem. I enjoyed the drama and suspense of Proxy, and relished in some scandalous ideas about the lengths people will go - and actions they can forgive - for the people they love. I recommend it, with an open mind.
2. Rosemary's Baby (1968) Rated R
Written (screenplay) and Directed by Roman Polanski
Of course, the first title that comes to my mind when I think of motherhood is Rosemary’s Baby. A well-known classic, and one of my favourite films of all time. Rosemary’s Baby tells the tale of a young couple moving into a new apartment building. Shortly after their occupancy, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and things start to spiral from there. Mia Farrow’s portrayal of a whisper-thin mother-to-be descending into paranoia at the hands of her neighbours is perfect. Her innocence and determination adds a plausibility to the idea of what could go on inside the mind of a young mother who listens to her sixth sense. Or her 666th sense. Get it? Heh heh. I definitely recommend this one, it’s a must.
3. Antichrist (2009) Not Rated
Written and Directed by Lars Von Trier
If you’ve never watched a Lars Von Trier movie, this one probably shouldn’t be your first. That being said, Antichrist has some of the strongest themes about motherhood I can think of. It wrestles with the darkest ideas of what it means to be a mom, and thoughts nobody wants to talk about. Of course, that’s only if your brain can get past the bizarre animal symbolism and graphic genital “situation”. Antichrist begins with another unfortunate child death (which takes place while the kid is unsupervised due to some passionate marital bliss). While recovering from this trauma, the couple heads to the woods where things get crazy. Mainly, she gets crazy. If we know anything by now, it’s that bad things happen in the woods. Charlotte Gainsbourg, as always, approaches her role with a fearlessness I can only admire. This is just a movie I can’t stop talking about. Watch it so I have somebody to talk to.
4. Grace (2009) Rated R
Written and Directed by Paul Solet
I have to admit, the cover of Grace used to give me the heebie jeebies at the video store (remember when we had video stores?) so I avoided it for a long time. Babies already kind of creep me out, so the idea of one that gets sustenance from a bottle full of blood is less than appealing. However, one viewing was enough to show me the other side of the “devoted parent.” Grace, of course, is the name of the unborn (and deceased) child inside of Madeline who insists on carrying to term. After the delivery, her baby comes back to life with an unusual appetite. For blood. Clearly Madeline is the type of doting mother who will go to the next level to care for her child, and the level after that. It’s gross guys, and it’s not that good. I don’t recommend it. But it’s a good creepy example of a deranged mother’s devotion to her child.
5. Inside (2007) Rated R
Written and Directed by Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Who doesn’t love a little bit of French extremism? Everything’s better in France. The food, the wine, the shocking and unrelenting gore. Inside is a story about a young pregnant woman who survives a devastating crash and is then harassed by a woman who wants her unborn child. Things are not going well for her. I’ve had this movie recommended to me several times, so I finally had the chance to check it out. I think we can say right off the bat there’s some questionable baby CGI happening reminiscent of an early 00s music video. Somehow this doesn’t completely detract from the film. I seem to remember watching a similar movie around Y2K with Daryl Hannah called Hide and Seek that was like an episode of some kid’s show, comparatively. The gore in this film is shocking, violent and intense. On the other hand, Inside is extremely suspenseful and I found myself suffering through the depravity for that reason alone. Do I recommend it? Sure, why not. At a brisk hour 22 minutes, it’s worth a shot.
I left out some obvious contenders that deserve a mention: Mommy Dearest, Psycho, The Brood, Lyle (internal link), and The Babadook (internal link) to name just a few. Not all of them carry themes as dark as the ones in the list above. Our relationships with our parents is often complicated, so I think we can all relate to the underlying ideas presented in these films whether we’re parents or not. After all, isn’t mankind’s basic instinct to reproduce? Well, not mine as long as I can still get poutine in the middle of the night without having to worry about leaving my child unattended.
Becky is one of The Bloodlust's newest contributors, hailing from the West Coast of Canada, where she resides with her pet rabbit. When she's not devouring horror movies, she spends her time playing video games, cooking, and going to local comedy shows. She enjoys body horror, psychological horror, and anything that makes her feel weird for a few days after.
~ Becky (@bexbz)