VMDIFF Review: You Are Not My Mother

VMDIFF Review of You Are Not My Mother

DIRECTED BY

Kate Dolan

STARRING

Hazel Doupe, Carolyn Bracken, Ingrid Craigie, Paul Reid, Jordanne Jones, Katie White and Jade Jordan

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SYNOPSIS

In a North Dublin housing estate Char’s mother goes missing. When she returns Char is determined to uncover the truth of her disappearance and unearth the dark secrets of her family.

Film Review - You Are Not My Mother

You Are Not My Mother is an Irish horror drama written and directed by Kate Dolan, making her directorial feature debut after directing several shorts. Set in Dublin, the film focuses on a young girl named Char. She appears to be getting bullied by a group of students at school and in her home life it appears that she and her grandmother Rita are trying to cope with looking after her mother Angela, as there appears to be a hint towards a history of mental health issues with her in the past. When Angela goes to to drop Char off at school one day, Char is returning home when she spots her mother’s car abandoned with her mother nowhere to be found. As she, her grandmother, and uncle Aaron contact the police and try to find her missing mother, one night she suddenly returns, much to the relief of Char. Upon her return, Char and Rita notice that Angela is acting more peculiar than usual, leading to the pair looking to uncover the truth about her disappearance.

Kate Dolan’s immediately brings an air of menace and tension to proceedings as we witness a woman take a child in a buggy into the nearby woods and seemingly sets a fire either around the child as part of a ritual, or in an attempt to burn the child. What follows is an air of unease and claustrophobic tension as when Angela returns home, she is immediately more upbeat than when we last saw her and even though Char notices that she seems to be a bit, off, red flags start to appear but we wonder just what the reasoning behind it is. Is it due to her grandmother, who appears to dabble in methods in relation to Irish folklore? Or could it be something else entirely?

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The film is a solid slow-burn that fortunately pays off with the final act with arguably one of the best constructed scenes in the film. Hazel Doupe is absolutely terrific playing the role of Char, a teenager who not only has to deal with the horrors of school life with bullies that would make Stephen King proud, but also have to deal with the escalating horrors at home. Carolyn Bracken also gives a fully committed performance as Char’s mother Angela, some of the physical stuff she does really stands out and who thought Joe Dolan’s ‘You’re Such A Good Looking Woman’ could be used to such a horrific effect?

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VERDICT

You Are Not My Mother is an impressive directorial feature debut from Kate Dolan, and with a terrific lead performance by Hazel Doupe, the duo are certainly ones to keep an eye one for the future.

★★★½