Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing three mother centered horror shorts for director Stephanie Hensley: A Mothers Choice, Mommy Said So, and Momma’s Boy. These shorts, along with two others and a wrap around story, form A Mother Knows Best, an anthology film that was just released on Mothers Day. While I’ve reviewed the bulk of the material here separately, I had no idea how it would fit together as a whole, so I decided to review the complete and finished project.
A Mother Knows Best is an anthology film directed by Stephanie Hensley (The Trunk 2016) featuring segments written by Stephanie Hensley, Erin Butusov and Chris Prather. The film stars Allie Arkwright, Brezlin Ashley (The Trunk 2016), Erin Butusov (She Was So Pretty: Be Good For Goodness Sake 2017), Ilo Butusov (Mommy Mommy 2016), Tonya Conner, Sandra Cook, Brandi Dale, Caleb Glass, Gunner Hollin, Cody Lawson, Peyton McDonald, Brady A. Myers, Megan Nixon, Brandon Prewitt (The Wicked One 2017), and Landen Reeves. The anthology features five segments (and a wraparound) that tell horrific stories relating to motherhood.
First up is Momma’s Boy. The plot follows two brothers who take care of their sickly mother who was disabled during an accident. They set out to find a companion for their mom through online dating services but things aren’t quite what they seem… This segment is fucked up and fun. Brezlin Ashley and Caleb Glass have excellent chemistry as brothers. Ashley’s character just wants to escape the hell his life has become, while Glass just wants to keep his family together, no matter the costs. I’ve said it once before and I will say it again (and I’m going to keep saying it until it becomes a reality), this short needs to be expanded into a feature. There are so many places that the story can go and every time I watch it, I find myself thinking about it and writing out scenarios in my head.
The second segment is Mommy Said So. The plot follows a young boy who is abused by his father and what happens when he can’t take it anymore, seeking the aid of his mother. Brandon Prewitt plays an absolute dick and from the minute he showed up on screen, I couldn’t wait to watch him die, which brings me to my one complaint about this segment: His fate is mostly left to the imagination. There is enough shown to allow viewers to connect the dots, but I really would love to see the douchbag suffer just a bit.
The third segment is Mommy’s Little Angel, which I haven’t previously seen. The segment follows a young woman who is haunted by the voice of her dead mother that chastises her for her attraction to women. This segment shows just how much horrible parents can fuck up their children, especially when religion is involved. This girl was manipulated for her whole life and told that everything she felt and everything about her was wrong. The ending completely caught me off guard and left me not knowing whether to feel sorry for the main character or hate them, or some fucked up combination of both.
The fourth segment is A Mother Choice. The plot follows two high school sweethearts who are torn apart by an unwanted pregnancy and a difference in opinion on how to deal with it. The first time I saw this segment, I was absolutely horrified as well as heartbroken. This is, by far, the most fucked up and devastating segment in the anthology. It shows the complete destruction of a relationship and the vastly different paths the two parties take in subsequent years, with one developing into a good and loving mother, while the other drowns in a sea of depression, obsession and hate. I thought the ending would be easier to stomach the second time around but honestly, I think it was worse because I knew it was coming. The anticipation builds and builds until the climaxes hits, leaving me an emotional wreck once again.
The fifth segment is Mommy’s Promises, which tells the story of a daughter who is pissed at her mother for breaking promises to her and not letting her go out with friends. She takes her anger out on a voodoo doll, leading to exactly what you would expect. Never in a million years could I ever picture hurting my mother, which is what makes this segment so twisted. The daughter is just trying to release some anger and, in turn, finds herself losing her mom due to her action.
The wrap around segment follows a mother reading these stories to her child before bed, which is crazy given the subject matter. It ends with an unexpected twist, just before going into Stephanie’s previously released horror short Mommy Mommy, a story about a young boy who hates himself, quite literally. To say any more about it would ruin the fun.
A Mother Knows Best is a nightmarish look at the perils of motherhood, frequently alternating between fun and disturbing, leaving audiences never knowing quite what to expect. I laughed, I cried and I think I even died a little inside. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of A Mother Knows Best, you can do so here.