I don’t know which movie is the worst between Grimcutty and Matron, but let me tell you one thing: Disney needs to kill 20th Digital Studio. There hasn’t been a great title to come out of this division of FOX, and its latest product, Matronis an absolute embarrassment for everyone involved.
Read: New poster for Digital Studio 20’s ‘Bite Size Halloween’ on Hulu
However, it starts off semi-promising. After surviving a cocaine overdose, Laura (Jemima Rooper) returns to her childhood village to see her mother (Kate Dickie), who is thought to be dying. Apparently because she has been emotionally manipulating Laura since she was a child, with the protagonist blaming her for her current drug and alcohol addiction issues. This seems like a great basis for a film exploring the theme of family trauma, with the mother not being what she seems and the film slowly pulling back the curtain on who (or what?) controls the village.
But once he gets to *that* reveal, oh boy. It goes from semi-serious to incredibly stupid and never recovers once. I dare not spoil it (why would I spoil the fun of this unintentionally hilarious movie that needs to be watched while stoned?), but let’s just say it looks straight out of a Neil Breen movie, without any cohesion of what was initially put in place before. It’s hilarious to think that audiences will care more about what happens when it’s all revealed, because this could very well end up being the most confusing plot twist of the year. And no coherent explanation will ever justify how absurd it is. Director Ben Steiner is doing something allegorical with his reveal, and I’d love to address it in this review, but it’s funnier if you let it go and you’re legitimately shocked, and not in a good way, by what Matriarch reveals in her last fifteen minutes.
There is also the problem of city dwellers who begin to decompose exhuming a kind of blood resembling motor oil (direct plagiarism of Julia Ducournau’s book Titanium?). To regain their youth, they must drink poisoned milk (?) in a ritual where they drink the concoction before having an orgy. What does this have to do with the main plot? I don’t know, but since none of the concepts of Steiner’s script are explained, all we have to do is say “what?!?” “How? ‘Or’ What?!?” ” What is he talking about ? Does he want to talk about Laura’s relationship with her mom? Or the effects of the city as they are poisoned by motor oil milk? What is really happening? Pretty soon, you’ll probably go “who knows and who cares”, especially during its ridiculous ending.
It doesn’t help that none of the performances were particularly memorable, but no one can blame the actors. The storyline is filled with clichéd arcs, from the drug-abusing protagonist who cannot discern fact and fiction as she is emotionally and physically abused by her mother with an obvious hidden agenda that comes to light in her final minutes. , all the territory trodden in Matriarch has been done eons of times in much better films with a point. Because Matriarch has no reason. Like I said, it starts out interesting. Any film with a self-destructive protagonist is enticing enough, but it literally and figuratively jumps the shark as soon as she rekindles with her mother.
It might be a strong opinion that Disney would shut down all 20th Digital Studio production, especially on how it elevates independent filmmakers to the mainstream, but they haven’t come out with anything compelling in its fourteen years of existence. Disney shouldn’t have shut down Blue Sky, but a studio that is literally the nadir of 20th Century Fox, which brings little to no artistic value or quality to its productions. And if their next films were of the same ilk as Grimcutty and MatronI don’t want to see them.
Matriarch is now available to stream on Hulu in the US and on Disney+ internationally.
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