Here’s wishing all the moms a Happy Mother’s Day! Certainly, cinema has offered thousands of examples of altruistic moms over the last 100 years, but not always. Sometimes, a movie will come along, and you’ll say to yourself, “Oh, I’m glad that horrible woman is not my mother.”
Here are five downright scary examples of bad moms over the last five years. Enjoy??
Blanche Weboy (Lesley Manville), “Let Him Go” (2020) – When Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) travel from Montana to North Dakota to see their grandson – and hopefully rescue him from an abusive stepfather – they realize that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. The Weboy family owns an intimidating reputation as an onerous bunch, and director/writer Thomas Bezucha repeatedly informs us of this fact leading up to the official meeting between the clans. During an uncomfortable breaking of bread, Blanche (Manville), the miserable matriarch, spreads passive aggressive discourse with the ease of a hot knife cutting through butter, but harsh words are only the beginning.
Kendall (Selma Blair), “Mom & Dad” (2018) – Director/writer Brian Taylor takes a twisted twist on zombie films, as parents everywhere – suddenly – discover a burning desire to murder their children. Apparently, “You kids are in big trouble,” has now gone to the next level, and the formerly pleasant suburban ‘rents, Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall (Blair), succumb to the unseen sinister force. This entertaining – but admittedly uneven – horror comedy carries the thrills and delights of smashing plates in a Greek restaurant, but Brent and Kendall’s kids – played by Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur – are running for their lives and are NOT cheering, “Opa!”
LaVona Fay Gordon (Allison Janney), “I, Tonya” (2017) – Janney won the 2018 Best Supporting Actress Oscar by playing Tonya Harding’s (Margot Robbie) mom, and rightfully so! LaVona (Janney) pushes Tonya with tough love, insults, and occasional physical spat, and after watching Craig Gillespie’s movie, one would surely trade an Olympic appearance for a pleasant childhood. This foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking human tornado of misery and hard knocks – who has burned through five husbands and lighting the sixth – will fire up your anxiety, even though you look forward to her next on-screen moment.
Liz (Ella Smith), “Ray & Liz” (2019) – Writer/director Richard Billingham recounts his ’80s childhood, and it wasn’t all “Flashdance” and “Footloose”. No, his parents, Ray (Justin Salinger) and Liz (Smith), didn’t inspire Richard or his brother Jason to dance, as they live in a shabby, grimy flat, just west of Birmingham, England. Richard and Jason’s folks are terribly neglectful, as they linger around the apartment day after day. Ray frequently drinks and Liz chain smokes, while the kids are left to their own devices. The dishes pile up, dirt collects on the floor, and any kid with a hint of common sense would count the days until their 18th birthday.
Paula (Naomie Harris), “Moonlight” (2016) – Director/writer Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture Oscar winner follows Chiron’s story through three chapters of his life: childhood, high school, and adulthood. As a boy, Chiron’s nickname is “Little”. He’s small, but he’s also a wandering kid look for direction. He finds it – of all places – with a drug dealer named Juan (Mahershala Ali), because he’s not finding positive guidance at home. Chiron’s mom Paula (Harris) is addicted to crack-cocaine, and although she earns some sympathy for her drug addiction, this mother is verbally abusive, negligent, and she leaves a massive void in this child’s life. Jenkins includes Harris sparingly in this film, but the limited disturbing imagery will last for years.
Image credits: Focus Features, A24, Sam Plant Industries, Neon, Focus Features, Universal Pictures
Trailer credits: Focus Features, A24, Movieclips Trailers, 1091 Pictures