[Review] MOM [FrightFest Glasgow]: A Gripping New Entry in Postpartum Fear Fare 

Postpartum horror is a subgenre unto itself, but director Adam O’Brien’s U.S./Canadian feature Mom (2024) takes matters to a whole new chilling level. Heavy with dread from its opening shots to its final ones, the film is an unrelentingly bleak look at the downward spiral of the mother of a newborn. And as a good horror movie should, Mom remains vague and mysterious as to whether this mother is suffering from  mental health concerns or if supernatural forces are indeed at play.

Meredith (Emily Hampshire) has just had a baby boy, and she and her partner Jared (François Arnaud) move together  into a new-for-them house as the film begins. Rifts between the couple flare up as Jared goes to work while Meredith remains at home with their baby Alex. Meredith’s behavior goes from concerning to unsettling to dangerous, due in no small part to visions of a preadolescent Alex (Christian Convery) and a frighteningly sinister figure that hangs around him. After tragedy strikes the family, Meredith returns to the home — from which Jared has moved out, distancing himself from Meredith — after spending months hospitalized, and her interactions with the seemingly ghostly older Alex become even further discomfiting. 

Hampshire gives a marvelous performance as a woman who goes from unsure of her new life as a mother to unhinged. Her character walks the fine line of being something between sympathetic and at times unlikable, as all the while Hampshire remains riveting to watch in the role. Her performance alone is enough to highly recommend Mom, with Arnaud providing solid support.

Philip Kalin-Hadju’s screenplay (O’Brien receives a story credit, while Albert I Melamed, Nathan Oliver, and Taylor Sardoni receive original idea credits) combines believable, realistic dialogue with plenty of eldritch elements. Cinematographer Benoit Beaulieu captures the disturbing world within the couple’s home wonderfully, as Christian Rivest’s sound design effectively adds to the eeriness. 

O’Brien brings Mom to cinematic life with a constant sense of unease at play, which should come as no surprise as he has plenty of experience helming fright-fare shorts and anthology segments. Similar to how Meredith’s family members and neighbors begin to walk on eggshells around her, O’Brien keeps viewers equally on edge throughout his unnerving debut feature. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Mom received its world premiere at Glasgow FrightFest on 9 March, 2024.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.