‘The mother of all evil’
Matriarch is a 2022 British horror film about a woman who returns to her childhood home to confront her personal demons. Still afflicted with a mysterious disease after surviving an overdose, she discovers a real demon.
Written and directed by Ben Steiner, making his feature directorial debut (shorts: Urn; Clanker Man; The Stomach; The Flea; Horrorshow). The Flea is one of the shorts in the horror anthology feature film Monsterland 2 (2019). Matriarch is the spiritual successor to Steiner’s short film Urn.
The 20th Digital Studio-Sharp House production stars Jemima Rooper (series: The Girlfriend Experience; Flowers in the Attic: The Origin); Silent Witness; Kinky Boots), Kate Dickie (Raven’s Hollow; The Northman; Shepherd; The Green Knight; Game of Thrones; The Witch), Sarah Paul, Simon Meacock (The Limehouse Golem), Christina Cole, Franc Ashman, Celinde Schoenmaker, Jamie Davis, Stephen DeRosa, Nicholas Page Hayman, Kate Lynn Evans, Nick Haverson, Michael Scott, Jay Patel, John Baker, Emma Blyth and Robert Fitzgerald.
“Steiner’s debut is full of ideas and delivers unforgettable moments of horror, but it’s perhaps a bit too ambitious. Dickie and Rooper are fantastic; Dickie’s Celia is a menacing force of nature. But we’re no closer to understanding Laura or her childhood by the story’s end, and, save for the horror, we’re not entirely invested either.” 2.5 stars out of 5, Bloody Disgusting
“Despite tonal inconsistencies, Steiner makes an admirable folk horror effort with the film. His commitment to developing a deep lore shines through, even if it doesn’t always come together. Matriarch is worth watching for those who love cosmic horror, creepy imagery, and a deeply unsettling atmosphere.” 3.5 out of 5, Dread Central
“This writer-director feature film debut is very promising for future films from Ben Steiner […] I knew I’d enjoy watching this movie because Jemima Rooper and Kate Dickie played the two leading roles […] On top of that, there are a few more (pleasing) surprises along the way. Overall, it made for a very interesting and engaging watch!” 4 stars out of 5, Heaven of Horror
“There are some early pacing issues, but Steiner takes the film to a very unsettling place […] if you enjoy outsiders stumbling into nefarious ancient secrets and rituals, Matriarch will scratch your itch. Recommended for folk horror fans…” J.B. Spins
” …Matriarch isn’t mean or operatic enough to satiate gorehounds, nor is it polished enough to appease fans of so-called “elevated horror.” Instead, what we are left with is a mixed bag of phenomenal performances that seem stuck in a rut. While I did appreciate the spectacle of the final fifteen minutes, it still does not make up for some of the other more glaring flaws.” 2 stars out of 5, Josh at the Movies
“Intense and gloomy – Rooper and Dickie, both performers who can be very funny, have to play it dead straight – it’s a tangle of big cosmic horror and dysfunctional family themes. Some of it goes for extremes – a vision of a mother eating a baby comes early on, symbolic of the plot to come…” The Kim Newman Web Site
“It’s ultimately precisely the story you think it is, but the film is helped along by Rooper and Dickie’s performances, both of which are very good. Dickie is entertaining to watch as a placating mum to Rooper’s petulant adult child, and while Steiner can’t maintain a grip on the narrative during the third act, his co-leads keep the film from coasting. A word of caution, there are some disturbing images around eating disorders in Matriarch.” The MN Movie Man
” …I was genuinely intrigued with the story and the “what-ifs” of everything happening for a good portion of the film. This is where Rooper’s performance stood out to me; the first interaction after “the change” packed such a wow factor I was quite literally on the edge of my seat because of the tension in the scene.” 2.5/5, Overly Honest Movie Reviews
“There’s gruesome body horror interwoven into this script and some decent special effects shots toward the end. While the over-the-top, sensationalized finale will appease horror fans who decide to stick with this movie to the bitter end, but it doesn’t save the movie overall.” 2.5 stars out of 5, Ready Steady Cut
“As writer/director Ben Steiner drip-feeds the mysteries of the village and Celia herself, Matriarch becomes as dense as the muddy marsh in which Laura’s father perished. An eerie atmosphere permeates almost every scene, and Steiner successfully plays up to folk horror traditions.” 4 stars out of 5, Starburst
” …the worm scene is enough to have you wanting to throw up and a church scene towards the end should have you thinking. There is a lot of talking in Matriarch but it doesn’t distract from the substance it does have in the 85 or so minutes. It’s a horror I would recommend, but not to watch alone.” 3 stars out of 5, Which Films
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