Review by Adam Donato
Hulu is getting in the horror game this spooky season with an original horror movie called Matriarch. Ben Steiner gets his first feature film to write and direct after having success in the short film horror scene. The story follows a woman named Laura, played by Jemima Rooper, who finds her life in shambles after an overdose and retreats to her mother’s house for mental refuge. This break from her everyday life has the opposite outcome than was intended. Is she the one that’s crazy or is it her mother that’s crazy? Does this original horror movie have what it takes to assert itself this October?
Matriarch is wildly chaotic and downright disgusting. As a horror movie, it takes some time to embrace the genre as the first half plays more like a drama, but this is a service to the development of Laura and her relationship with her mother. This first half is no slog to get through as the film only runs at about 85 minutes. Even though the first half is devoid of obvious scares, it’s fraught with paranoia and uneasiness as we experience the decline of her mental state. Once the plot veers straight into gross-out horror, it’s a ride until the end. Whatever direction one feels Matriarch is going in, they’re sure to be in for a surprise come the movie’s conclusion.
The performances are good all around. Rooper carries the movie throughout and is well supported by Katie Dickie, who science fiction fans may recognize as that one lady from Prometheus. The effects here are a standout as well. There’s an entity towards the end that is sure to induce nightmares. It's definitely an experience reserved for ones with stronger stomachs. It’s a personal journey, but allows itself to widen its scope as the movie goes on. It’s short, but doesn’t waste any time getting where it wants to go. The experience of watching the movie is grueling, but there’s so much to chew on after it's over. It’s a one-watch movie, but it deserves the one watch.
Matriarch premieres on Hulu this week, just in time for Halloween season. It’s a good thing this is a straight to streaming movie as it doesn’t have the cache or mainstream appeal to succeed at the box office. Audiences mentally equipped for such a disgusting experience will find this to be a rewarding feature. It will be interesting to see what writer/director Steiner has in store next. Until then, Happy Halloween!
Matriarch streams on Hulu beginning October 21.