Phenomena: Aronofsky's 'mother!' breaks the horror mold


Creating something different is truly difficult. In a world that is saturated by all kinds of works of fiction that are inspired by or based on other works or true events, finding a story that is truly unique proves a challenge. It is especially challenging when works that are truly unique are criticized for being too different or strange. Breaking the mold and changing the way people view topics proves a challenge. A pioneer of this skill is Thornton Wilder, whose meta theater play "Our Town" completely changed the way people viewed plays and theater. A modern pioneer who doesn't follow the trend and constantly puts money on the line to release genuine movies that change the way that people think is Darren Aronofsky. His newest movie, "mother!" is one such example.

"Mother!" was advertised through trailers as a horror movie. In the most viewed trailer, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are seen as a couple living in a remote house. Strangers show up out of nowhere to their home and stay with them for unknown reasons. Then, more people show up. Pretty soon the situation seems to devolve into chaos and horrors ensue. The sense and vibe that the trailer gives off is one of real terror. Viewing "mother!" was a completely different experience.

Spoilers follow.

The gist of "mother!" is that the two strangers that show up to the couple's home are actually fans of Bardem's work, since he's a poet. Pretty soon, the strangers clash with Lawrence, who doesn't understand why Bardem is allowing them to stay when they seem extremely ungrateful. Eventually, the strangers break into Bardem's office and accidentally break his treasured possession, a diamond like egg. After this, the strangers' two sons break into the house and have a fight over the male stranger's will. The younger son ends up killing the older son and everyone but Lawrence rushes to take him to the hospital in vain. 

When Bardem returns, he is not alone. The strangers come with him and a slew of other people who are now there to have a funeral for the dead son, all with Bardem's blessing. This drives Lawrence to the brink, who finally – when the partygoers break a pipe and partially flood the house – kicks everyone out. Lawrence rages at Bardem, but eventually they reconcile and have sex, impregnating Lawrence.

At this point, the story fast-fowards almost nine months. Bardem's writer's block is gone and he has published a highly successful book. Suddenly, right before Lawrence is about to give birth, an onslaught of people come over for a party to celebrate the book. In this part of the story, things take a turn for the surreal (ala Black Swan). The partygoers all go insane in awe of Bardem and his prophetic book. They sacrifice people in the house, loot things in order to own a piece of the author and destroy the house. The military is called in to break up the party and there is a huge fight and shootout. Eventually, Bardem and Lawrence barricade themselves in his office and she gives birth to a baby boy. Bardem attempts to hold the boy but Lawrence refuses, telling him that the people need to go. Bardem refuses, claiming that he wants them there. Eventually, Lawrence falls asleep and Bardem takes the baby and gives it to the people in the house, who now resemble a fanatical tribe. They break the baby's neck and eat it. Lawrence then explodes and burns down the house with everyone in it. However, she and Bardem survive, with Bardem being unscathed. He tears her heart out and puts it inside is his crystal egg. He puts it back in his office and the house repairs itself and the story starts all over as the credits roll.

At first, it seems like a huge convoluted mess. But actually, Aronofsky created this movie exactly how he wanted it. It is a masterpiece of an allegory for mankind and human beings. Bardem is God, who creates everything around him, including Mother Earth, Lawrence. They are a couple but God becomes lonely. He creates Adam and Eve – the strangers. However, they prove ungrateful to Mother Earth, only God can't see it because he requires and demands adoration. Adam and Eve break into the one place they aren't allowed and eat the forbidden fruit, Bardem's egg. Eventually, Cain and Abel make an appearance as the strangers' two sons and the Cain kills Abel. The breaking of the pipes is symbolic of the great flood and Mother Earth's wrath. Eventually, it is clear that God's creation is killing Mother Earth but he can't let them go. He requires their presence even after they kill Jesus – Lawrence's baby son, and everything devolves from there.

"Mother!" is a masterpiece. Unfortunately, most people didn't think the same way. Most critics acknowledge it for what it is, fantastic. However, scores from audiences were far less positive. It is what happens at times when someone tries to create something truly different. You can even say it is something that is expected when you try to break the mold and challenge how people think. "mother!" is not a movie that you will enjoy. It is a movie that will blow up all your conceptions of what a film should be. It will leave you confused, upset and even disturbed. However, that doesn't mean that it falls short of doing exactly what is set out to do: impact a person's psyche and change what it finds. It is unlike any movie that has hit theaters in a long time and you should definitely give it a watch, even two.