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Motherly (2021) Movie Review

I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!

Especially keep them inside their shoulders.

Especially keep them inside their shoulders.

Running Time

80 Motherly Minutes


Craig David Wallace


Ian Malone, Craig David Wallace, Your Mother.

MPAA Rating

R for Mother.

As I sit here on top of this tree in mid-August, I look at my online calendar and note that upcoming holidays include the Assumption of Mary (have no clue what that is), Aviation Day, and Senior Citizens Day (take them out bullfighting!). It’s also Karen’s birthday but no one cares.

For the purposes of this review, the only holiday that matters is Mother’s Day and we’ll celebrate it in a motherly fashion because the name of the movie is Motherly and I couldn’t think of any other segue so after this review you should give your mother a call if she’s still alive.

You probably won’t have to call her then.


Motherly opens with what looks like the saddest birthday party in existence. It’s a girl’s birthday party and a little exposition bird told us that she’s turning nine years old today. That little girl’s name is Beth (Tessa Kozma) and she’s celebrating with her mother Kate (Lora Burke- For the Sake of Vicious). Will dad Brad be joining the party today?

Probably not because he’s in jail for murder.

But that won’t stop Beth from having a wonderful birthday. Actually yes it does because she’s wondering where dad is constantly (“Is dad coming home?”). Being the good mother that she is, Kate speaks in half-truths even though Beth can see right through her (“Dad isn’t coming to your party because he’s getting rhinoplasty and tested for shingles”).

At least Beth’s getting good presents…or just one present (“I wanted an iPad”).

Yeah, this birthday party sucks. And it’s about to get a lot worse.

You see, Beth and Kate move around a lot for a reason. It’s usually not a fun icebreaker when you tell your new neighbors that your husband and Beth’s dad is in jail for murder.

What happened? Well, it involves a game of hide and seek in which someone ended up dead. It happens more often than you think but this time it was a little girl. Somebody forgot to tell the little girl that they changed the game to hide and die.

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She's got red on her.

She's got red on her.

Good news, though. Kate is writing a book about it but is having trouble turning in pages to her publisher. She wants an advance on the advance but Kate’s editor is having a hard time keeping a straight face because Kate is being stupid. No pages = no money.

Since her husband’s been in jail, Kate’s hooked up with a local cop named Hal (Colin Paradine) who just happens to be married but at least he gave Beth a present that Beth throws away within 5 minutes of opening it.

Side note- Along with dropping off a gift for Beth, Hal came by to tell Kate a little tidbit that her convicted murder husband Brad killed himself in jail so that makes it a lot less likely that he’ll make it to Beth’s birthday party. Brad didn’t miss much because this party has been flatlining since Beth didn’t get her iPad.

Kate’s having a rough day too. She entreats Hal to stay but he says he has to go home to his wife. Hal leaves but takes a slice of cake home.

Could this birthday party get any worse? Depend on how you look at it, because there’s a white couple in matching parkas (cute!) that’s been scoping the house. They’ve got some personal business to attend to with Kate.

They also haven’t brought any gifts for Beth. Unless you count rope, knives, and a video camera. They’ve got personal business with Kate, and it could get squishy.

But the parka couple will soon realize that Kate will do anything to protect her daughter. Kate’s motherly instincts are a razor sharp as is her will to survive.

You could say Beth’s birthday party is just getting started.

Newest TikTok craze. Abduction arms!

Newest TikTok craze. Abduction arms!

What Works With Motherly.

  • Lora Burke and Tessa Kozma have a wonderful unforced chemistry as mother and daughter, even in their more intense scenes together. Burke’s Kate is tender when she needs to be and the exact opposite with the situation calls for it. Kozma’s Beth (“I’m not a baby”) is more wide-eyed and knowing than your average nine-year old, and she really doesn’t like dolls.
  • A scene at a door entrance is the tensest of the movie. You expect something extreme to happen after every line of dialogue or even in the middle of it. You kind of know where it’s going but director Craig David Wallace manages to be half a step ahead of you for most of the scene. You wish the rest of the movie were this unpredictable.
That's not how you do abduction arms.

That's not how you do abduction arms.

What Doesn’t Work With Motherly.

  • A twist you can see coming from 30 minutes into the movie because it’s telegraphed so much earlier. One of those movies where you guess the ending and then hope you’re wrong because that was just too easy and then you realize you were right and you spend the rest of the running time shrugging and then you call your mother because you guessed the twist and then she tells you she’s so proud of you and then you hang up the phone and realize your mother has been dead since 2012 then who was the person that answered your mother’s phone that’s been disconnected for a decade?


Motherly is a tense but overly familiar horror thriller. You can predict most of what’s going to happen but that shouldn’t diminish your experience too much. It’s violent, somewhat diverting and barely 80 minutes long. You’ve seen better. You’ve seen worse. Very mildly recommended.

Really 2.5


Buy Motherly Here!

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Noel Penaflor

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