Mother's Day has come and gone, but motherhood is forever. And forever is a long time. Long enough, surely, to drive some people crazy. Chances are your mother was pretty cool, generally speaking. Not everyone's so lucky. For us, celebrating Mother's Day with a list like this one is just what the counselor ordered. Here are...
The 5 Worst Mothers in Horror Film
#5 – The Babadook
I loved this movie. It creeped me out and made me laugh and annoyed the shit out of me—all of which I can appreciate in a film. The characters made me feel things. Sometimes angry things. There were so many times when I wanted to strangle Samuel—played by the very talented Noah Wiseman.
That having been said, I empathize with Amelia (Essie Davis) a bit. Enough to put her at Number 5 on my list. She loves her kid, and she's trying, but shit is hitting the fan, there's a crazy demon in the house, and people keep stressing her out.
Are we done empathizing? Good. Amelia is emotionally abusive, she's volatile, psychotically depressed, and all of this is deeply concerning to me. I was worried for Samuel long before the Babadook got involved, and that's saying something. Amelia needs to see a professional who's comfortable with her cohabitating with a demon. She obviously needs help, but the demon kinda happened. That wasn't her fault, and I'm not blaming her for it.
I give Amelia four rocking chairs out of ten.
#4 – Friday the 13th
I'm actually going to defend a mom for a second, because this poor woman gets both forgotten and shat upon far too often.
We can say a lot of things about Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer; Nana Visitor), including that she's a crazy knife-wielding killer, but we cannot say that she was a bad mom. Jason was born to Pamela when she was only 16. Mind you, this was in 1946. One imagines she was married in a shotgun wedding to her high school boyfriend, given the class ring that she wears on her left ring finger. The point is that Jason was born with a disability, and Pamela did not stay married.
Pamela was overprotective of Jason, but she wasn't domineering. This is evidenced by the fact that she trusted the other camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake to do their jobs on the day that Jason drowned. The fact that Jason had the temerity to attempt to swim means that Pamela had done a good job making Jason feel empowered, despite his disability. Ironically, if Pamela had been as overbearing as Vera, Jason might have felt too nervous to approach the lake, and this long series of slasher films never would have happened.
I give Pamela two rocking chairs out of ten. She was a fine mom, but she did kill people.
#3 – Braindead (Dead Alive)
This movie had some amazing lines, amazing gore, and was hilarious through and through. If you like slapstick horror, and you haven't seen this movie...I think you might not exist. I'm so sorry.
There is nothing redeemable about the awful Vera Cosgrove (Elizabeth Moody). Everything goes wrong because of her, but she's the kind of person who would probably blame poor Paquita Maria Sanchez (Diana Peñalver) for the fact that she got herself bitten for being where she did not belong—snooping on her suffering son Lionel (Timothy Balme) during a date. Needless to say, the fact that Vera is Patient Zero is no coincidence. This entire film is about individuating from a domineering parent by cutting your way out of her gargantuan womb with a cross. It's a parable is what I'm saying.
I give Vera six rocking chairs out of ten.
#2 – Scream 2
Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf) is an awful woman. An awful, awful woman. She's hardly sympathetic when she's introduced to us as a reporter, and she does not become more so.
Debbie's failure as a mother falls largely in the category of neglect. When she learns that her husband has been cheating on her with Sydney Prescott's (Neve Campbell) mother, she leaves him, abandoning her son. Her neglect is a major contributing factor in Billy Loomis's psychosocial development, which leads him to don a ghost mask and start killing people.
Of course it's only after Billy has gotten himself justifiably killed during his murder spree that Debbie returns to town to avenge him. It's too little too late. It doesn't matter how many copycat murders you commit, you're never going to make up for those lost years. Debbie's failure as a mother was minor compared to what she did to make up for it, but neglect is still child abuse.
Debbie gets eight out of ten rocking chairs.
#1 – Carrie
This woman takes the cake. Of all of these mothers, she is the one I would want the least. The manipulative, insidious way in which Margaret White (Piper Laurie; Julianne Moore) commits to covert incest is jaw-dropping.
The religious nature of the abuse makes it especially bad. Margaret uses the Bible to make Carrie feel disgusting, even monstrous, for becoming a woman. Anyone who makes a girl feel bad about her period deserves to experience some excruciatingly gory punishment in a specially brutal ring of hell. A mother who does that deserves a punishment that's slightly worse. Mostly because, as a mother, you know what that's for. You shouldn't shame people about it.
Margaret eventually becomes so zealous in her religious fervor that she decides to save her daughter's soul by killing her. Being forced to become estranged from an abusive parent is bad enough. Being forced to kill your own parent in self-defense? I can't imagine how awful it must have been for Carrie to have been raised in a situation like that. I'm not sure I want to imagine it, to be entirely honest.
Margaret gets ten rocking chairs out of ten rocking chairs. Mama Bates would be proud.