Horror frequently explores the fears and anxieties of raising a child. The genre tests then exacerbates those fears in unsettling ways. Especially when it comes to the complexities of motherhood, it’s a mother’s job to protect and nurture her child; but what if the child is the threat?

Lake Bodom director Taneli Mustonen’s The Twin poses just that. Warm Bodies and Lights Out‘s Teresa Palmer stars as a young mother still reeling from the loss of one of her twins when she suspects something may be seriously amiss with the other.

“Following the aftermath of a tragic accident that claimed the life of one of their twins, Rachel (Palmer) and husband Anthony relocate to the other side of the world with their surviving son in the hopes of building a new life. What begins as a time of healing in the quiet Scandinavian countryside soon takes an ominous turn when Rachel begins to unravel the torturous truth about her son and confronts the malicious forces attempting to take a hold of him.”

Steven Cree (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Barbara Marten (The Turning) also star in the film.

Ahead of The Twin’s release in limited theaters, on demand and streaming on Shudder on May 6, 2022, look back at eight of horror’s most ferocious mothers that embrace their children no matter what.

The Others

Grace (Nicole Kidman) is a doting mother determined to keep the house in order and her two sickly children protected from the light that hurts them. Even when a supernatural presence enters the home and seems to possess her daughter. Of course, there’s a reversal at play in Alejandro Amenábar’s period haunter; Grace represses some rather tragic missteps in parenting. She genuinely loves her family, making the truth a sharper twist of the knife.

Mother (2009)

Parasite director Bong Joon-ho crosses genre borders to deliver an unsettling, chilling, and heartbreaking maternal story with complex characters. When son Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) gets accused of committing a brutal murder, Mother (Kim Hye-ja) embarks on a mission to clear his name. She’s willing to go to great lengths to do it while navigating maternal guilt, social pressures, and a complicated relationship with her son. Mother transforms a familiar examination of how far a mother will go for her child into a fascinating character study that posits that perhaps a mother’s love can be detrimental.

The Hole in the Ground

Single mom Sarah relocates with her son Chris to a rural home next to a forest. They’ve barely settled in when Chris briefly goes missing, and it’s only the beginning of his strange behavior. Sarah grows concerned and then frightened by Chris’s dramatic shift in personality. Lee Cronin’s directorial debut plays this dark Irish folk horror close to the vest throughout, biding its time in revealing whether the mom is cracking under pressure or if something is seriously amiss with her son. Her love never wavers, though; she’s willing to go to any length to bring back the son she knew.


Horror Queers Grace

Madeline (Jordan Ladd) desperately wanted to become a mother. So much so that on her third failed attempt, she convinces her doctor, Patricia (Samantha Ferris), to let her carry her stillborn to term. When she finally does give birth, the stillborn miraculously comes to life. That’s not the only thing unusual about Madeline’s new daughter, Grace; the newborn smells of rotting flesh and thirsts for blood. Something is very, very wrong with the baby in Grace, but mom loves her no matter what.


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Laura (Andi Matichak) escaped a cult long ago and eventually established a comfortable life in a small town to raise her son (Luke David Blumm). One night, strangers show up in David’s room but vanish before the police arrive. Soon after, David falls mysteriously and violently ill. Realizing her past might be catching up to her, Laura takes David on the run. In search of safety and answers, she discovers how far she’s willing to go to keep her son from harm. Laura’s unwavering love for David drives the entire narrative. It forces her to commit some unspeakable acts in the name of protection and defense as evil forces close in around them.

House of 1000 Corpses

Played by horror vet Karen Black, Mama Firefly often plays ditzy and uses flirtation and seduction as a distraction tactic before unleashing violence. She may not care for anyone outside her family, but she’s an extremely devoted mother to her children: Baby, Rufus, and Tiny. This is one of the rare depictions in horror where the children are complete monsters, but it’s because the apples don’t fall far from the tree. Every single branch in this sadistic family tree is warped.

The Exorcist

Chris is a single mother and famous actress who spares no expense or experimental treatments to heal her mysteriously ailing daughter Regan. Even when Chris grows terrified of her daughter as the Regan she knew seems to get replaced by an evil being capable of murder, mom never gives up. Even at her most vulnerable and broken, Chris keeps trying to find a cure, even seeking out the church for supernatural aid. No one would’ve blamed Chris for fleeing this demonic presence, but she bites back her fears and keeps trying anyway.

Rosemary’s Baby

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Rosemary is an eager-to-please housewife, supportive of her husband’s career ambition, and friendly to new neighbors. For much of Rosemary’s Baby, we only get a glimpse of Rosemary’s maternal instincts through the measures she takes to secure a healthy pregnancy. At first, it’s dutifully taking her bizarre supplements. As Rosemary grows more suspicious of those around her, it’s in the way she seeks out help for her and her unborn baby. The ultimate sign that Rosemary makes for one fierce mother is how quickly she embraces her role as a mother upon discovering that the father is Satan. The fiercest of mothers love their children unconditionally.

Discover what’s wrong with Rachel’s son in The Twin when it releases in limited theaters, on demand and streaming on Shudder on May 6, 2022.

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