Motherly Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Lucky Dime Films


Directed by Craig David Wallace
Written by Craig David Wallace, Ian Malone
2021, 90 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
UK Grimmfest Premiere on 9th October 2021

Laura Burke as Kate
Tessa Kozma as Beth
Kristen MacCulloch as Mary
Nick Smyth as Lewis


As if their relationship wasn’t fraught enough already, a mother and daughter face a terrifying ordeal when masked intruders break into their home and make with the torture. Kate (Lora Burke) and her daughter Beth (Tessa Kozma) live in an isolated country farmhouse, with only the occasional visit from the pushy Hal (Colin Paradine) to liven up their days. It’s Beth’s birthday, but no-one is feeling the birthday cheer. The mother and her daughter fight, with Beth frustrated by her controlling, smothering parent, and Kate being overly mean to her kid for mysterious reasons. Clearly, the pair are hiding a secret.

motherly 01 motherly 02

Kate’s murky past comes back to bite her in the present when the pair are attacked and held captive in their own home by masked interlopers. After a slow but emotionally tense build-up, the film abruptly pivots to brutal home invasion movie - duct tape, pliers and gnarly torture sequences being the order of the day.

Craig David Wallace’s home invasion thriller comes hot on the heels of both Don’t Breathe 2 and Run (and, to a lesser extent, Becky) – thematically similar yet very different horror films about controlling parents and sins past. While its story does feel familiar, the central mystery is a compelling one. There is quite obviously more to Motherly than meets the eye, and viewers who squint hard enough can probably see where all this is headed.

motherly 03 motherly 04

While there’s a restraint to the violence (and I’m not just talking about all the duct tape), Wallace isn’t afraid to get gruesome – particularly in the film’s hardest-to-watch torture sequence. Burke and Komza handle themselves well – particularly the latter, who navigates a perilous path between cool cucumber and precocious pre-teen. The film offers a reunion for Burke and co-stars Paradine and Nick Smyth, who previously starred together in the modern grindhouse nasty For the Sake of Vicious. This isn’t quite as nasty as that, but it’s a neat bit of serendipity between two very different home invasion movies.

While the plodding plotting is a bit obvious, and its twists may seem predictable to anyone paying enough attention, that sense of familiarity doesn’t make the story any less well told. Motherly is a taut and tense take on the home invasion movie, bolstered by an incredible set of performances.


Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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