‘Mother!’ Review: the question of today’s horror movies

As we soon begin October and prepare for Halloween, we already see a slew of horror movies beginning to come to theaters to get our adrenaline flowing. As a kid, I remember seeing horror monsters such as Freddy Kruger, Jason, Mike Myers, Chucky…all frightening in their own way. Each a development of the more classic monsters: werewolf, vampire, zombie, ghosts. All of these, also, had a weakness: a silver bullet, a crucifix, wooden spike through the heart, whatever. Evil was something defeatable. Good triumphed. It didnt matter that the story and effects were cheezie and fake, the good guy won in the end. I think about my favorite quote by GK Chesterton who said, “Kids don’t need fairy tells to explain that dragons are real. Kids know that dragons are real; fair-tells remind kids that dragons can be defeated.”

However, I remember a stark changed happened around the year 2000. A movie came out called “House of a 1,000 corpses”. The movie is horrendus and glorifies evil and slaughter. The movie basically can be summed up in that towards the beginning there is a sign on the side of the road that reads “God is Dead”. This becomes a theme throughout the movie: no hope, no rescue, just darkness and death. Evil wins. This movie became followed by such movies as the “Saw” movies, “Paranormal activity” and the various spirit movies such as “The Ring”, “The Grudge” and the different Exorcism movies. In 2016 there was a movie called “The Darkness” that had the tag line of the movie: “Your God can’t help you”. More and more, movies began to portray evil as a force that was unstoppable, people as lost and helpless, and God as absent or at least powerless.

Even more frightening in many of these films is how things that have always been seen as good and innocent have been twisted. In the series of films known as the “Sinister” series, the subjects are always children who in some way become ‘possessed’ and murderous. A people are drawn to these movies, the evil that seems to win and the evil that is not able to be defeated.

Fast forward to todaymother with the slew of movies that have come out and are coming out. I think of the most recent one that NO ONE should see. Its called “Mother!” featuring Jennifer Lawrence. The long and the short of the film is an attempt to portray Jennifer as Mother Nature, her husband as God and the ‘guests’ as humanity and how they have destroyed and pillaged her. The Characters actually don’t have names in order to portray their representation all the more. When some strange guests enter their house (representing Adam and Eve), these guests begin to take over the house and Jennifer aka mother nature, begins to find her husband (‘God’) siding with all these guests. The last 30 minutes of the movie are almost unbearable as Jennifer (representing mother nature) is bruttally attacked, mobbed, stripped naked by the crowd (humanity). They are all at war with each other. Humanity is seen as an uninvited guest, an intruder if you will, God is a prideful bully who takes advantage over nature and mother nature is just the poor victim. We’re back to the view that nature is chaos, there is not harmony or unity. God is not seen as the author of life but rather mother nature and he stands back and watches it all.

What all these films in the end are trying to point to is again an explanation for original sin and the reality of what sin does to, not only human nature, but the entire world. Man, God, and the world were all created together not only in a harmony but a hiarchy with God on the top, man as the link with creation. Creation was made for man, not the other way around. However, with original sin, that original disobedience, that unity was broken and now all three are disconnected. Man’s nature is wounded and rebellious, that which is innocent and good is now twisted and used for wrong pruposes, our awareness of God is darkened and we sense isolation from God and sin and evil strives to take man as slaves and lord the darkness and evil over them. The evil now seem more real and more powerful than that which is good. However, St. Augustine defines evil as “The absence of a due good”. Evil is nothing. Its a vacuum, a lack where there is meant to be a good. Sickness is the absence of health; blindness, the absence of sight; darkness the absence of light. Jesus in the garden of Gethsemene encountered all this. He took on himself this brokeness and endured all the evils the world could face. He experienced the isolation from God and feeling and weight of evil and sin. Unlike in the movie ‘Mother’, it is not nature that is itself the victim, but God. God who actually made himself a victim, allowed himsef to be torn apart but our sin. But then he rose. The end of the story is life, victory, joy, love. God is supreme! I love the image of Revelation which is the image that will be shown at the end of all times, of the Lamb standing as though it were slain. He has been wounded, mortally wounded yet he stands victorious. The woundedness and death is no longer a sign of defeat and pain but of victory and new life. God didn’t just defeat the evils in our world, he completely transformed them. The brokeness and weakness in our lives can be changed when united with Jesus’ cross.

As we look to the different images our society tries to portray onto our world, let us remember these truths: Goodness is the basis of creation. God is intimately close to us and has power to defeat any evil. Our victory is in the resurrection. Let us more and more draw near to the Lord Jesus who has the answer to the cause of evil in the world but also the reality that not only is God present with us in it, he took it so that we don’t have to. He gave us the remedy and the salvation to these sins: his mercy on the cross and the gift of himself in the sacraments.

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