MOTHER, MAY I? (2023) Review by Steve Kirkham

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MOTHER, MAY I? (2023)

4 stars
Vertigo Releasing. Digital Platforms 21st August
Emmett (Kyle Gallner) picks up his Mum’s cremated remains in a cheap box. Seemingly not bothered by her death, he and his wife Anya (Holland Roden) scatter the ashes in a lake in the forest. The only plus is they have inherited her beautiful, large, rural house. Estranged from his mother for some years, Emmett hasn’t been there since he was a young child. Anya however is immediately taken with the property – despite it being slightly creepy, with creaking doors and odd noises.
He has unresolved abandonment issues. They are trying for a child but is it for the wrong reasons? Both of them are quite fragile and they try and use psychological, role reversal games to attempt to understand each other and maybe fix each of their issues. Lots of close-ups and them looking directly at each other make for intense scenes.
Then things start to become unsettling… is his mother, who died in the house, haunting the remote dwelling? As things progress Anya starts to take on Emmet’s deceased mother’s persona and to treat him like a child, which really isn’t going to help his state of mind! The “possession” seems to come and go, meaning her husband doesn’t know where he stands from one minute to the next.
A slow burn, emotionally involving story with supernatural horror overtones this is a complex, chilling drama, well written and directed by Laurence Vannicelli and beautifully shot by Craig Harmer. The two leads give excellent, credible performances especially Roden who switches characteristics – which may or may not be the result of being taken over by the spirit of the dead owner of the house. The highly effective soundscape and music score by Marc Riordan add to the sinister atmosphere.
Steve Kirkham