Our Mother’s House is a 1967 British drama/psychological horror film directed by Jack Clayton (Something Wicked This Way Comes; The Innocents) and starring Dirk Bogarde. The screenplay was by Jeremy Brooks and Haya Harareet, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Julian Gloag.
Dirk Bogarde, Margaret Leclere, Pamela Franklin (The Legend of Hell House; The Food of the Gods; Satan’s School for Girls), Louis Sheldon Williams, John Gugolka, Mark Lester (What the Peeper Saw; Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?), Phoebe Nicholls (Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors), Gustav Henry, Parnum Wallace, Yootha Joyce (Frankenstein: The True Story; Burke & Hare; The Night Digger).
Seven young siblings are orphaned when their bedridden mother dies, having converted to fundamentalist religion and refused medical help. Not wanting to be taken to an orphanage, they bury her in the backyard and go on with their daily routines as if she were still alive.
The eldest child, a young teenage girl, takes charge. They make excuses for their mother’s absence to their neighbours and teachers, one of the boys forges the mother’s signature on cheques that arrive for her each month, and they periodically hold séances to communicate with her.
One of the boys writes to their mother’s no-good estranged husband, who is their legal father, hoping he will help them, but when he moves in, he spends their money, drinks regularly, entertains loose women, and begins the process of selling the house. The children will not just stand by…
“It is, I suppose, a horror film. It is set in a bleak old Gothic mansion, and it has dead bodies and communication with the spirit world and all that. But it is a ghost story without ghosts: the best kind. And the spirits speak only in the minds of the children. In the end, nothing supernatural can match the horror that the kids find in their own, real, everyday world.” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“It’s all about dark corners and things that rarely see the light of day, both figuratively and literally. It’s a creepy, poignant, sad little film, and pretty much perfect in every way.” Bilge Ebiri, They live by night
“Clayton and Bogarde felt the end result was a failure, and I concur. Though the macabre material is intriguing, it never is convincing.” Dennis Schwartz, Ozus’ World Movie Reviews
Buy: Amazon.co.uk (English language)
“The first half of the film, where the children are left alone, is eerie, affecting and oddly believable … Our Mother’s House benefits slightly from its obscurity and that of its source novel. It plays best to audiences who don’t quite know what to expect and are willing to explore strange byways.” The Kim Newman Web Site