Murderous Mothers

by Chance Lee Joyner

Mother’s Day movie picks in 100 words or less

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992)

The Bartel family hires the perfect nanny, Peyton Flanders (Rebecca De Mornay). Unbeknownst to them, Peyton plans to destroy the family from the inside because she blames them for her miscarriage. De Mornay owns her iconic role as the psychotic caretaker. Realistic performances from the family (Annabella Sciorra, Matt McCoy) ground an otherwise campy and outrageous premise. Julianne Moore has a small role as Claire Bartel’s BFF, a brassy chainsmoker skeptical of Peyton’s plans. After watching this thriller, you’ll never look at a greenhouse the same way again.

Serial Mom (1994)

Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is the perfect housewife: she cooks, cleans, recycles, and takes care of her teenage children (Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard). She also murders anyone who goes against her ideal suburban lifestyle. This irreverent black comedy is the most fun and accessible work by cult filmmaker John Waters. When Beverly is arrested after a string of murders, she represents herself in court and becomes a national phenomenon – and a hero to frustrated housewives nationwide. 

Carrie (2013)

A few subtle changes make Kimberly Peirce’s remake more sympathetic toward the tortured heroine than Brian de Palma’s sleazy 1976 original. Chloe Grace Moretz assumes the role of the young teen confused by budding telekinetic powers – as if high school wasn’t hard enough. Things are made worse by her domineering, abusive mother, played by Julianne Moore in a no-holds-barred performance. Ansel Elgort co-stars as the charming but doomed Tommy Ross. Worth a look even for fans of the original. 

Friday the 13th (1980)

As all horror fans know, Jason Voorhees and his iconic hockey mask is not the villain of the first installment in the long-running Friday the 13th franchise. It’s his mother, Pamela. Mrs. Voorhees blames the neglectful counselors of Camp Crystal Lake for the drowning death of her son, Jason. To enact her revenge, she dispatches them one by one in a variety of gruesome ways. Did she deserve to be branded a villain, or was she just doing what any mom in her position would do?

Ma (2019)

Sue Ann Ellington (Octavia Spencer) aka “Ma” wants to be the fun mom. She lets the local teens party and drink in her basement. However, Ma has ulterior motives. She plans to use the teens to get back at their parents for what they did to her many years ago. Octavia Spencer plays Ma as totally cuckoo bananas the way no one else ever could. Don’t make her drink alone!

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