As longtime readers of this site will know, I am a massive fan of anything to do with horror. Which is why I absolutely had to sit down and watch the new Netflix thriller titled I Am Mother as soon as it came out. So approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes later, here we are…
Just like almost all of the other reviews on this site, this one will be spoiler free. So feel free to read through it even if you haven’t watched the movie yet, because this will ruin nothing for you guys.
The basic premise of the plot (which doesn’t reveal anything more than the trailer does) is that we are at least 100 hundred years into the future and humanity has been entirely wiped out by an unknown force (or so we thought…) that has made the outside environment completely unliveable.
Immediately after humanity has been deemed extinct, a secure building known as the Unu-Hwk repopulation facility comes online and activates a robot powered by some kind of AI. Unlike most of the robots that we see in movies and tv, this one doesn’t speak with a Stephen Hawking voice. Instead, it has a feminine voice that sounds incredibly realistic (courtesy of Rose Byrne‘s voice).
This robot, that we later learn is called Mother, picks out an embryo from a stash of 63,000 that are contained in secured tubes. This embryo is placed into a special incubator which is able to grow it overnight into a full sized baby. Out of this weird speed birthing machine comes a baby girl, who is deemed Daughter (Clara Rugaard).
Mother spends the next several years carefully raising Daughter within the facility, being careful to keep her from anything that is outside (including a poor little mouse who quickly gets dealt with). We then jump forward to 13,867 days since the extinction. Now, if you’re anything like me, you had no idea just how long that is. Well it turns out that equals almost 38 years, which is odd because Daughter seems to be only about 15 or 16 now. I won’t give away why that is, but I’ll just say that it’s not an oversight on the filmmaker’s part.
So daughter is well into her teen’s now and has grown to be quite the intelligent girl, even being fluent in things like philosophy, medicine, robotics, and origami (for some reason). All seems to be going well so far, with the only slight issue being that Daughter is growing impatient to have another brother or sister.
However, everything changes one day when Daughter decides that she wants to check out the airlock area that Mother has deemed unsafe. It is here that Daughter hears a knocking outside and meets a wounded stranger (Hilary Swank), appropriately not given a name in the film where nobody seems to have a name. In the credits she shows up as Woman, so that’s what we’ll refer to her as from now on.
Woman needs medical help for a bullet lodged in her abdomen, but once she sees Mother, she loses her mind. Trying to shoot mother proves ineffective, and she winds up being forced into the infirmary. Woman can’t stand the idea of Mother being anywhere near her and tries to tell Daughter about the awful atrocities that other droids just like Mother have done to the world outside.
Now we’re in a “she said, droid said” situation where Daughter is thrown in the middle of it and doesn’t know who to trust. It’s at this point that the film takes a turn towards becoming a more thriller movie as you struggle to figure out who is the good guy and who is not to be trusted.
This premise sounds pretty cool right? I sure thought so, but let’s discuss how it translated from paper to the screen. One thing that I definitely need to give the film props for is keeping me on my toes. There was numerous twists and turns, with many of them actually taking me by surprise (which is hard to do in films nowadays).
Another area where the film really succeeds is in the acting. Hilary Swank and Clara Rugaard do an amazing job in this film, making both characters very relatable. And I don’t know about you, but when I found out that the same actress from Bad Neighbours, Spy, and Insidious was the voice of Mother, I was absolutely mind blown. So congratulations to Rose Byrne for being able to disguise her voice so well I guess?
Now no film review would be complete without mentioning the flaws as well. Luckily, there aren’t many in this film, so this section should be pretty short. The biggest thing that I would’ve liked to see different is the lack of explanation regarding some things. However, I mostly chalk this up to the time restraints of making this a movie rather than a series. If they had instead decided to make it a multi-episode series, then I think it would have been better off.
The only other real complaints are little nitpicking things that aren’t really regarding the overall quality of the story. However, since nitpicking is like 90% of what I do, let’s discuss some of the main smaller issues. My first one being the whole name thing. By the time that Daughter meets Woman, she is clearly intelligent about most normal aspects of life, even going so far as to show that she understands the social norms of handshaking and making jokes. So then why does she never think it’s weird that she has no legitimate name? And why does she not ask for the Woman’s? It just seems incredibly odd to me.
The other issue is why the hell they make the origami such a big part of thee story. We see it several times as she grows up and even once again towards the end of the film. Seriously, why? Is this some kind of weird metaphor thing that I’m not getting? Because if not, it just seems really random and weird. [SIDE NOTE]: After writing this, I was made aware that the origami was a reference to Bladerunner, so I might be able to give the film a pass on this point.
Overall, I think the film did a pretty good job of telling this suspenseful futuristic story. I give it 3.5 out of 5 mothers.