Review: The Invisible Mother

Written and directed by Matthew Diebler and Jacob Gillman, Marcy returns to her grandparents’ to find a hell of surreal ghosts and psychedelic visions. With the help of her weed dealer, her phone psychic, and her southern belle neighbour, Marcy must un-blur the lines of reality to save her family. Starring: Fayelyn Bilodeau, Helen Slayton-Hughes, Richard Riehle, Kiersten Warren, Debra Wilson and Kale Clauson.

The Invisible Mother sets the perfect tone with its ultra 1970s inspired opening credits. The entire style of this film is wonderfully trapped between the 70s and present day, blending both classic and modern elements. The effects work also helps to create that blend, they thankfully are not as handmade as those of the past but they do hold that indie spirit. They also use a lot of physical effects over favouring CGI, which is always a pleasure to see.

It’s easy to underestimate a film such as this, which looking at from the outside might look silly or over the top but in fact creating a film that can reflect the fun, colourful horror of the past is actually extremely difficult. Many fall short with an insincerity or leaning too harshly into violent or exaggerated themes but Diebler and Gillman successfully tap into the right balance of humour, horror and the supernatural. It brings through that cheesy edge but plays that against a strong directorial style which feels much more modern. It has a plethora of colour, it plays with a good variety of angles and builds a solid atmosphere of suspense and mystery throughout.

Its mystery is what drives it forward, it may not be fast paced necessarily but the gradual reveal keeps you plugged in. It doesn’t delve into overly complex territory, it nicely hits the familiar points of the supernatural and haunted themes, keeping things simple and easy to watch. Interestingly one of the comparisons that comes to mind is Jamie Babbit’s But, I’m a Cheerleader due to its bright palette and the offbeat but relatable tone to its story. The only aspect which potentially lets it down is the ending which will likely find itself hit and miss with viewers but not to such an extent that would truly dampen the entertaining experience up until then. Diebler and Gillman have created characters that are just eccentric enough, none of them take it too far and putting them all together creates a really fun ensemble.

Lead by Fayelyn Bilodeau as Marcy, who gives a great performance and bucks the trend of apathetic youth with a genuinely caring and kind attitude towards her grandparents. As well as an open mind to the supernatural, where others may likely have placed a complete skeptic to go for a cheap transformation, Marcy is more flexible. Helen Slayton-Hughes (fans of Parks and Recreation will recognise her as Ethel Beavers) and Richard Riehle make a superb couple, they bring that mix of sweet and senile with well-rounded personalities. The three as a family have a good chemistry, and are entirely convincing. Kiersten Warren and Debra Wilson and another two perfect additions, the more individual and eccentric personalities of the film, who feed wonderfully into the supernatural atmosphere. Lastly, Kale Clauson provides an extra edge to the comedy side of things, again another character that could so easily fall into cliché as the local drug dealer stoner but actually comes across as a smart guy with unique tastes for dark memorabilia.

The Invisible Mother is the sort of indie horror gem that you always hope to find, when you take a chance on a random streaming movie that piques your interest, this is what you want to discover. It brilliantly blends the classically fun, cheesy, colourful atmosphere of 70s horror with a modern directorial style. It’s full of a lovely indie spirit and a cast with bags of energy and personality. It’s entertaining, easy to watch and while its ending may be divisive, it shouldn’t stop you from diving into this treasure.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯| 8/10

Out now on VOD

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