The day we set aside to celebrate moms is here. Motherhood is usually portrayed as a noble and saintly pursuit, which it is, most of the time. But anyone who has done it for more than two minutes knows it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. It can be a thankless and overwhelming job. But society expects moms to persevere through the tough times, their unconditional love for their offspring propelling them onward.
But there is another side to mothering we rarely see portrayed. A darker side that no one talks about and rarely admits to. Like many uncomfortable aspects of society, horror and thrillers are the perfect vehicle for dragging these facets of being a mom out into the open. So in the spirit of Norma Bates, here are some equally horrifying mommies you may want to check out.
The Other Mother, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, book and movie. So, she wanted to pluck out Coraline’s eyes and sew on buttons instead, probably how she planned on stealing her soul. So, she wanted to keep Coraline a prisoner. So, she kept the souls of other children imprisoned, is that so bad? A beldam from a parallel universe has to find love somewhere.
Pamela Voorhees, Victor Miller; Sean S. Cunningham; Ron Kurz; Friday the 13th. Some mothers live out one of motherhood’s worst fear, the death of a child. For Pamela, the pain of losing her son, Jason, was compounded by the fact the death was, in part, due to the negligence of others. A little revenge, of course, is better than a long-drawn-out lawsuit, right? So what if all the people she killed had nothing to do with it. Perhaps it was her evil blood sacrifices that led to the resurrection of Jason so he could carry on the family business of murder for many, many more films.
Mommy, Wes Craven, The People Under the Stairs. The acting credits simply call this character, Woman. Wes Craven was inspired to write this after seeing a news story where a reported break-in uncovered children locked away in the house, prisoners of their own parents. In Craven’s version, a twisted incestuous couple kidnap several children in an attempt to raise a boy in addition to their daughter, Alice. Kids can be naughty and a disappointment but Mommy knows how to handle them. She had Daddy cut off their tongues, gouge out their eyes and force them to live in the cellar. Although, one boy escapes into the walls. A home invasion reveals their dirty little secrets. Poor Mommy, it’s stressful to have kids misbehaving in the basement and one in the wall doing his business God-knows-where!
Amelia, Jennifer Kent, The Babadook. Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable mother/child relationships, the mother who feels resentment and enmity toward her own offspring. I saw this at The Stanley Film Festival last year and it was the best screening I attended. I thought the ending could have been better, but the way the story evolves is mesmerizing. Amelia’s son, Sam, is an annoying and troubled little guy for certain, but Amelia shows more affection towards the dog than Sam, poor dog. She blames Sam for his father’s death, he was killed in an accident driving Amelia to the hospital to have Sam. Sam finds a spooky book about the Babadook, a boogie-man like monster that begins to torment them. However, it is soon apparent that Amelia is a bigger danger to Sam than the spook. I think this story works because it touches on a secret of motherhood. That’s right, mothers don’t always feel loving toward their little ones.
Margaret White, Stephen King, Carrie, book and movie. Margaret is particularly scary for her use of religion as her vehicle for abuse. The way some abusers might wield a leather belt, she uses Bible verses to inflict damage to her daughter’s very soul. She thought she was raising Carrie to be a Godly woman, but she created a monster. Carrie never stood a chance. Unfortunately, neither did anyone who crossed her. Nice parenting, Margaret.
Mother, Stephen King, Revival. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to spend too much time with her. The little she is written about was more than enough. She doesn’t want to show motherly love. No, she wants to enslave you, for eternity. I’m not sure what or whom Mother is a mother of, but you don’t want any of that. It’s a good incentive to stay healthy and live a long life if she is all that is waiting in the afterlife.
Hopefully, you didn’t recognize your mother in any of the women (I’m not sure if Mother from Revival is a woman) described above. If you did, send her your therapy bill for Mother’s Day, otherwise tell your mom you love her.
To all of us who do our best every day to raise our kids and never ever act like any of the moms mentioned here (well, at least not all the time) Happy Mother’s Day!