At the core of You Are Not My Mother are a set of layered, complicated performances, a testament to both the cast and to Dolan’s work with them. Much is placed on Hazel Doupe’s teen protagonist as she becomes both the audience’s conduit into this world and the film’s heart. Doupe is mightily impressive in this role, sparking off well with Carolyn Bracken as the titular matriarchal figure. Bracken deftly treads a line of sympathetic and monstrous, with a number of stand out moments. But there is also terrific work from the likes of Ingrid Craigie, Jade Jordan and Jordanne Jones.
This is a wrenchingly sad piece, marrying domestic pain with a more supernatural anguish. An assured feature debut from Dolan, You Are Not My Mother deftly balances complicated themes with enough chills to satisfy genre fans. There are shots that will prove pure nightmare fuel to viewers. On a technical and thematic level (Dolan gives a coherence to a folklore heavy script), this is a remarkable achievement, a calling card for greater films down the future, whilst also being a great watch in itself. There is a lived-in quality here, both in the production design and a narrative rich with history, a confidence that audiences have the ability to keep up with proceedings. I found myself in a bit of horror cul-de-sac before I watched You Are Not My Mother, with this work proving the perfect reminder of why this can be such a satisfying genre.