Horror Movie Review: You Are Not My Mother (2021)

You Are Not My Mother is an Irish horror film that was written and directed by Kate Dolan, releasing in 2021. 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.

An opening flashback scene shows Rita Delaney taking her infant granddaughter Charlotte (“Char”) into the woods, while the baby’s mother Angela protests. In the wood, Rita sits the baby on the ground and lights a ring of fire around her. She watches as the baby screams.

In the present day, the teenage Char lives with her mother and grandmother; her uncle Aaron lives nearby and visits occasionally. The household is somewhat dysfunctional; Rita is in poor health, Angela is depressed and spends much of her time in bed, and there is no food in the house.Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

One morning, driving Char to school, Angela tells her daughter that “she can’t do this anymore”. Her car is later found abandoned, with no sign of Angela.

The family report the disappearance to the police, but they are not able to offer much help. However Angela returns within a few days, strangely altered. Her depression is gone, and she is cheerful, dressing up and cooking dinner for the family.

Char witnesses several instances of increasingly bizarre behaviour in the “new” Angela and becomes frightened. Her uncle Aaron is poisoned by Angela, which leads to him being hospitalised.

One evening Rita tells Char the story of her past; when Char was a baby, Rita realised she had been swapped with a “changeling”. The only way to get the real Char back was to place her near fire, hence the fiery ring ritual in the woods. This worked, but Char sustained a small burn to her cheek. Her family told her the resultant scar was a birthmark.

Rita tells Char that the “new” Angela is also a changeling, and thus the fire ritual must be repeated to get the real Angela back.

You Are Not My Mother can best be described as a slow burn. If that’s not the sort of horror film that you traditionally go for then I don’t see it changing your mind. Unless you’re willing to go into seeing this with an open mind, which I recommend that you do by the way. Personally, I thought it was very good. I found the slowly unravelling mystery really compelling which might not have been the case had it not been for the excellent performances from all involved. Hazel Doupe (Char) says a whole lot with great subtlety in her expressions and mannerisms. The same can be said for Carolyn Bracken as Angela who has to wrestle with a number of emotionally charged moments.

For me, the strongest aspect of this film is the atmosphere that it generates. It’s like a great soup, all of the ingredients are there. The colour palate, the cinematography, the sombre soundtrack, it all comes together nicely to deliver something gritty and genuinely creepy at times. The story builds naturally but slowly towards a memorable crescendo. Basically, there’s a lot to like about this film. It takes a “less is said” approach which I found very effective in building tension but that’s just me.

Could it have gone further? Done more? Were there certain aspects that needed to be developed and expanded upon? Absolutely, without a doubt. There are a few tension heavy scenes that are so well executed, it left me wanting more. The scares and horror are minimal but effective. The ending left me feeling somewhat disappointed due to a fairly messy execution and a sense of inconclusiveness.

Overall, You Are Not My Mother takes Irish Folklore horror and mashes it with family drama in commendable fashion.




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  • Liam Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Typical 90s-00s kid; raised on Pokémon, Final Fantasy & the Attitude Era. In fact, that makes up about 99% of my personality. The remaining 1% is dedicated to my inner rage for people who still don’t understand the ending of Lost or those that enjoyed the Game of Thrones final season. Find me on GBHBL where I’ll most likely be reviewing horror movies or games. Also, see me on our YouTube channel!

You Are Not My Mother
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