Frightfest Glasgow: Mom (2024)

Director: Adam O'Brien

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Starring: Emily Hampshire, François Arnaud, Christian Convery, Erika Rosenbaum, Tristan D. Lalla, Mariah Inger, Cat Lemieux

With a career directing short-films and anthology segments, Adam O'Brien makes his feature-length debut with this tale of unimaginable grief and struggles under pressure. Mom opens in unsettling fashion, cutting through glimpses of a house in disarray to show a home that has rotted away from the inside. As the moody scenes repeatedly arrive, the score builds effectively towards a moment which leaves quite the impression.

What led to such horrific sights within that house? That question lingers as the story flashes back to happier times, with new parents Meredith (Emily Hampshire) and Jared (François Arnaud) returning home with their newborn baby, Alex. As Jared returns to work, Meredith is left feeling on her own while constantly looking after the house and feeling sleep-deprived. As she struggles with daily life, an unimaginable tragedy soon occurs.

Adapting a script written by Philip Kalin-Hajdu, O'Brien crafts a saddening story of a newborn mother who feels abandoned. From her husband's lacking help, to her sister rarely coming around, the isolation is felt in Meredith as she struggles to hold it all together. Key to it all is an incredible lead performance, with Hampshire capturing the mounting worries and struggles. It becomes clear that this cannot go on forever, and when something eventually snaps, it will be a life-changing circumstance.

Early on, Jared shares that he has been reading up on parenting because he wants to be a good parent. Actions speak louder than words, as he repeatedly shirks household responsibilities while also complaining about the house not being tidy. He is a familiar type of antagonist that is recognizable in everyday life, the type of person who offers little help and then complains about his partner not keeping things together. He is somebody who ignores the struggles of his partner until it is too late, and still takes no responsibility in the aftermath.

As matters grow tense and combative between the couple, it becomes clear that Meredith is losing her grip on reality. This is captured effectively with building tension and creepy imagery, although it can feel disappointing as the story returns to loud noises and lacking jump scares a bit too often. As the horror elements feel secondary, the tale instead resembles a grief drama with some genre elements sprinkled on-top, and unfortunately feels uneven as a result. Where Mom works best is as a cyclical tale about the misery newborn parents face with little reprieve.

Mom made its World Premiere at Frightfest Glasgow 2024