26th Aug2021

Frightfest 2021: ‘Motherly’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Lora Burke, Tessa Kozma, Kristen MacCulloch, Nick Smyth, Colin Paradine | Written by Craig David Wallace, Ian Malone | Directed by Craig David Wallace

In recent years there’s been a name associated with the horror genre that is guaranteed to get me excited… Lora Burke. From her absolutely amazing, captivating performance in Poor Agnes; to Justin McConnell’s 2018 sci-fi horror Lifechanger; to last years amazing home invasion thriller For the Sake of Vicious, Burke has been one of the genres shining stars yet, for a lot of people, she’s something of an unknown. Hopefully Motherly, her FOURTH stunning performance in a row, will change all that.

What makes Motherly all that more exciting is that it comes from the creator of one of Canada’s best TV shows ever, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil... and it was co-written with one of the shows staff too!

Motherly tells the story of Kate and her nine-year-old daughter Beth, who have moved into an old isolated farmhouse outside a small town. Kate hopes this new beginning will shield her withdrawn daughter from their horrible past – her husband Brad was convicted of murdering a young girl, based largely on Kate’s testimony. Then a mysterious couple invade their home demanding to know the truth about the killing. In exchange, the vengeful duo guarantees Beth’s safety. But hell hath no fury than a parent scorned and Kate’s motherly instincts are about to be put to the ultimate test.

OK, lets get this out of the way first, Motherly is one part Poor Agnes and one part For the Sake of Vicious. We get the isolationist horror of the former with the home invasion thriller of the latter. With a twist. The film also sees Lora Burke taking parts from both of her previous characters from said films and blending them into yet another commanding and captivating performance. I really can’t praise Burke enough… This is yet another film where, without her performance in the central role, I don’t think the film would’ve been as effective. Seriously.

Yes, Motherly has a plot point I honestly saw coming a mile off – one that, if you’ve seen a certain sub-genre of horror, you’ll be familiar with – but when that point is revealed its no less impactful. In fact waiting for that pay off (to see if your suspicions were right) adds remarkably to the tension of the film. As does the performance of Tessa Kozma as Kate’s daughter Beth, in fact the way in which her role expands as the film goes on is beautiful to watch, culminating in something I did NOT see coming!

The story of a mothers ultimate love and that motherly instinct (hence the title) to protect ones family, no matter the cost, Motherly is yet another hit for actress Lora Burke. Somehow managing to be both downbeat and uplifting at the same time, this is a film that should be held in a similar regard to the great Canadian genre films of our times… and may just be Burke’s best film yet.

***** 5/5

Motherly screened today as part of this years Arrow Video Frightfest.


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