Matriarch (2022) Horror Movie Review


“Matriarch,” a film that delves into the eerie and unsettling corners of folk horror, has certainly made its mark on the genre. Directed by Ben Steiner and featuring a cast led by Jemima Rooper and Kate Dickie, the movie takes us on a journey to the secluded English village of Moorlinch Greinton, where the protagonist, Laura Birch, played by Rooper, seeks solace from her high-pressure city life. However, what awaits her is far from the peaceful retreat she hoped for.

The film opens with Laura’s life teetering on the edge, following an overdose that nearly claims her life. Seeking a fresh start, she returns to her childhood home, only to find herself entangled in a web of dark secrets and pagan rituals that the village and her estranged mother, Celia, fiercely guard. The narrative cleverly intertwines personal trauma with folkloric terror, creating a tapestry of horror that is both intimate and expansive.

Steiner’s direction is commendable, as he manages to maintain a balance between the relatable human drama and the supernatural elements that gradually seep into the story. The performances, especially by Rooper and Dickie, are intense and grounded, lending credibility to the increasingly bizarre events that unfold. The film’s atmosphere is thick with tension, and the setting of the English countryside is used to great effect, evoking a sense of isolation and unease.

One of the film’s strengths lies in its ability to subvert expectations. It doesn’t rely on jump scares or overt displays of horror; instead, it builds a slow-burning dread that culminates in a series of disturbing revelations. The use of body horror is particularly effective, with unsettling imagery that is likely to linger in the minds of viewers long after the credits roll.

However, “Matriarch” is not without its flaws. Critics have pointed out that the film sometimes struggles with pacing and that certain plot points could have been developed further. Additionally, while the special effects work is commendable given the film’s budget, there are moments where the low-budget constraints become apparent.

Despite these criticisms, “Matriarch” stands out for its ambitious storytelling and its willingness to explore the darker aspects of family and heritage. It’s a film that may not cater to everyone’s tastes, especially those with a faint heart or an aversion to body horror, but for fans of the genre, it offers a fresh and intriguing take on the themes of folk horror.

In the Nutshell

“Matriarch” is a film that bites off a considerable amount and, for the most part, chews it with a ferocious appetite. It’s a testament to the power of storytelling that can be achieved with limited resources and a clear vision. For those willing to venture into its twisted narrative, “Matriarch” promises a journey that is as harrowing as it is memorable. [3 out of 5].

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Genre: Demon | Occult

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