Motherly might be predictable but the engaging performances make for a taut and memorable thriller

MOTHERLY - Courtesy The Horror Collective
MOTHERLY - Courtesy The Horror Collective /

Is there anything stronger than the connection between a mother and her child? Science tells us that moms can deliver unbelievable feats of strength and adrenaline surges if they sense their kid is in danger. In The Horror Collective’s new movie Motherly, the mother-daughter connection is put to the ultimate test as young mother Kate (Lora Burke) takes desperate measures to protect her daughter Beth (Tessa Kozma) from her dark and disturbing past.

Motherly, directed and co-written by Craig David Wallace (Ian Malone also co-writes), asks the questions most parents hope they never have to answer: how far would you go to protect your kid? What would you do if someone tried to hurt them? Is there any limit to the lengths you would take, even if it came down to a life or death decision?

Single mom Kate and her daughter Beth have started a new life in an isolated farmhouse far from the prying eyes of other people to avoid a dark and disturbing past that haunts both of them. Throughout one horrifying night, Kate suspects that something sinister is occurring at their supposed “safehouse” and fears the worst. Is their past finally catching up to them? Kate quickly discovers just how far she’s willing to go to keep Beth safe.

MOTHERLY – Courtesy The Horror Collective /

Does Motherly work as a thriller?

This captivating thriller does a fantastic job of creating a persistent continuum of tension from beginning to end of its 80-minute runtime. The film’s length is ideal as it keeps the movie from overstaying its welcome, wrapping with just enough time to leave viewers breathless rather than bored.

Wallace does a great job of maintaining a palpable sense of suspense, making Motherly feel like the cathartic plummet of a rollercoaster going downhill—even if the script is a little formulaic. Most savvy genre fans will figure out the ending long before it arrives, but the tight pacing and gripping performances make this movie a memorable and engaging home invasion thriller.

light. More. Interview with Motherly director Craig David Wallace and star Lora Burke

The film score is particularly compelling, with stomach-churning synth sounds and almost animalistic chords that roil the stomach and make you dread what’s coming around the corner. As far as the casting goes, everyone does a fantastic job, not one actor is phoning it in, but Burke is the standout as a mother at the end of her rope, willing to go above and beyond to keep Beth safe from home invaders and what they represent.

Everything about Motherly, from the acting to the directing, works in tandem to create a nail-biting, taut thriller with a few memorable twists. My only criticism is that the film leans into some predictable genre cliché. However, despite the heavy-handed foreshadowing and inevitable conclusion, there were enough shocking character choices that shocked me and allowed me to maintain the film’s chilling momentum.

Taking place primarily in one location, Motherly was clearly made on a lower budget, but the creators and production did a phenomenal job of utilizing everything available. It’s always impressive how independent filmmakers can do so much with so little, often in ways that larger-scale productions fail to do. I think, particularly with home invasion thrillers, less is usually more, especially when you have talented actors who are well-equipped to handle the material.

MOTHERLY – Courtesy The Horror Collective /

Mother releases on-demand and digital on November 16

Since so much of this movie’s success hinges on the performances, I feel like it’s important to highlight how fantastic they are as Motherly could have quickly fallen apart if the acting was lackluster.

Releasing on digital and VOD on Tuesday, November 16, Motherly is worth renting, or even purchasing! I recommend trying to go into the movie as blind as possible, hence why I left this review a little vague in terms of plot.

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Motherly releases on-demand and digital on November 16, 2021. Follow the official film Twitter and Instagram account for movie updates.