MATRON is a disturbing British folk horror that turns out to be unsettling and nightmarish for a very different set of reasons.
Director Ben Steiner plays with his audience throughout and gives us plenty of dark supernatural moments, but it’s the complex and often unsettling relationship between the two central characters that really twists the knife in depth.
Now streaming on Stars over on Disney+, Matron is set in a sleepy English hamlet where Laura Birch (Jemima Rooper) has returned to escape the pressure and loneliness of her life in London as an advertising executive. She hasn’t seen her mother for 20 years but accepts the unexpected invitation to visit her in an attempt to calm the demons of the past.
His mother Celia (Kate Dickie) hasn’t aged a day in the years since, but she’s still just as bad as ever. The toxic relationship between the two women is highly volatile and shows few signs of resolution.
Laura struggles to contain her overwhelmed emotions, while her mother’s only concern seems to be getting her daughter down into the shed at the back of the house.
The townspeople – when not openly fornicating and embarrassing each other – are clearly hiding a dark secret, which not only involves his family, but also his dark fate.
Disconcerting and a little distorted, Steiner’s film presents itself as a more perverse and twisted version The wicker manbut not half as satisfying, and leaves far too many questions unanswered.
But between the human drama and the chilling and often nefarious driving of the blind, sweaty villagers, this atmospheric folk horror leaves an impression despite its many shortcomings.