By Brian Brecker
Elm Staff Writer

Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” is a horror film retelling of Genesis and the New Testament strewn with symbolism and particularly blasphemous perspectives on these stories.

The main plot of the story is about a husband and a wife, the latter of whom built their home, where the entire film takes place. The husband continually allows immoral individuals into their household to attempt to garner inspiration for his writing. However, the film maintains a relatively grounded atmosphere through its usage of handheld and over the shoulder camerawork.

The film presents the viewers with an intentionally limited point of view of the wants and needs of the mother, and how his strange obsession with pain and suffering, and how the need to be worshipped manifests itself.

The Biblical context of the film does not always logically link up with its more metaphysical spiritual elements. The beginning and end of the film implies the events of the film happen again and again with little to no explanation for the motivations for it to continually reoccur. These aspects of the film do not always have justification. Certain scenes are intentionally abstract to spur debate over the meaning of an object, leaving the audience with a slight feeling of artificiality to that symbolic inclusion.

Leaving out the Biblical and metaphorical subtext and allegory, the film still maintains a surreal atmosphere for which it will make general audiences particularly uncomfortable and disoriented. The horror elements rest largely upon the fear of social anxiety with hundreds of people entering a house at once, with the main character having little to no power to stop it. This results in a story where horrors happen and are unable to be altered, and pass on this feeling of powerlessness and victimization onto the audience. People in all their faults and flaws burst into this woman’s life, disrupting the paradise she has built for herself, and cause pain and destruction due to their own moral failings and inherent weaknesses.

The film’s pessimistic view on human nature can get tiresome, as none of the characters besides perhaps a select few, indicate that they have any redeeming factors at all. The film takes the Biblical view of humanity that we are fallen creatures, innately sinful, and undeserving of redemption. This broad stroke generalization of humanity may put some people off of the film as it appears nihilistic and misanthropic to the core. For what is ostensibly a spiritual film, it offers no redemption, guidance, revelation, or forgiveness, only vengeance, destruction, and the thoughtless worship of a maniacal egotist patriarch. The overall sense of the film is that humanity as a corruption has victimized the divine and subordinated it to their own interests for justifying any manner of cruelty.  

The Elm

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