Mother! disappoints horror fans

When I chose to see director Darren Aronofsky’s dramatic horror film, “fMother!”, I expected to experience just that: a movie filled with drama and horror. The trailer implies it, the description on IMDB foretells it, and the title fits it. So, naturally, I expected nothing less than an authentic, terror-inducing work of horror. However, in spite of all signs pointing to the alternative, “Mother!” induces something closer to unwanted discomfort than fear. Indeed, from beginning to end, “Mother!” keeps you writhing in your seat – but not in a good way.
“Mother!” tells the absurd story of a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her husband, a famous poet currently suffering from writer’s block (Javier Bardem), who live together in the isolated paradise of their beautiful mansion. One night, a strange man appears at their front door and begins to bond with the poet over a number of manly things. Jennifer Lawrence’s character dutifully serves the two manly men some tea, weird close-ups and vaguely sexist dialogue ensue, and from there, confusion and chaos carry us through the rest of the film.
From the too-close-for-comfort camera angles to the soul-wrenching absence of any musical score whatsoever, to the bizarre cast of nameless characters, “Mother!” is meticulously designed to make you feel uncomfortable and personally invaded by the movie itself. Every aspect of the cinematography, the dialogue, even the barely coherent plotline is intentionally shaped to cause the viewer to feel on edge. Unrelenting discomfort, however, does not necessarily translate into a satisfying and desirable sense of fear. We have, over the years, come to expect this feeling from movies claiming to be of the horror genre and “Mother!” simply did not deliver.
Now, of course, I acknowledge that Aronofsky intended the viewer to appreciate “Mother!” as the profound allegory it eventually reveals itself to be. In truth, the entire film is a masterfully crafted exploration of sacrifice, religious themes, and the unfortunate nature of selfish love, and it has a lot to say about the flaws of human nature. The artistic value of such a figurative work is not lost on me, and I genuinely praise Aronofsky and the many famous actors and actresses who worked so hard to produce this timely observation of our culture – but the rest of America and I didn’t buy a ticket to see a timely observation.
As much as I admire the intricate design of “Mother!” as a passionate allegory, I cannot help but simultaneously point out its utter failure as a horror flick. Throughout the film’s entirety, “Mother!” consistently fails to frighten the viewer at nearly every turn, and I am greatly disappointed by how little it even attempts to fit into its alleged genre. Certainly, there is nothing inherently wrong with a film about religion, sacrifice, and love; I would just appreciate it if these things made it into the trailer next time.