The Dysfunctional Mother is the Best Teacher

A mother requires the ability to act selflessly, placing their child first above all else. A mother is required to provide a safe environment and protection for their child. To make their child feel loved and cared for. Failure to provide any of these aspects is to fail as a parent regardless if it was done deliberately or not. Regardless if it was caused by actions from their past, present, or even if the mother has already passed away. A mother’s decision will always impact their child.

Motherhood is a topic frequently explored in the horror genre. Specifically, it is a dysfunctional mother that is being presented. Horror films. From what we assume to be a provider for life is presented as a bearer of death. Horror films such as Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Hereditary hone in on the consequences of a dysfunctional mother’s actions and reveal the drastic changes it causes for her children.

As mentioned previously it is not necessary for a mother to be present in order to affect their child.

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In Craven’s film Scream, it was Sidney’s deceased mother, Maureen, who caused Sidney to be subjected to a horrifying life or death situation. During Sidney’s first interaction with Ghostface, the killer, it was mentioned that they were related to Maureen’s death. Ghostface specifically pointed out how Sidney will “die, just like [her] mother . Showing that they were behind the murder of Maureen a year before the film takes place.

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There was an obvious connection between Sidney and Ghostface, yet their motive for targeting her was unknown. It wasn’t until the finale that Ghostface’s motive was revealed.

While it was shown that Ghostface was, in fact, two people working together Billy Loomis, and Stu, only Billy had a reason. When demanded a motive, Billy, revealed that Sidney’s mother was having an affair with his father. That Maureen was “the reason [his] mom moved out and abandoned”. Maureen was an unfaithful woman whose actions led to her own death and endangerment of her child. She allowed her own selfish desires to destroy her family, failing as a mother. “Billy lost his mind when he lost his mother”. Maureen’s actions caused Billy to seek revenge. It was her fault and inability to put her family first that led to this disastrous and horrifying situation. Scream was not the only film where Craven presented maternal failure.

It is also shown in A Nightmare on Elm Street through Nancy’s mother Marge. Film critic Seiboid points out that this film is “about the sins of the parents”. In particular it was Marge’s, past with Freddy Krueger that drove him to target her daughter. Marge reveals to Nancy, that she, among the other parents of the neighborhood set out to kill him years prior. That it was her specifically, who shot him. “No one could…kill him good and proper except” for Marge. While these actions went against the law, the parents believed it was just. That in order to protect their children they must rid the world of the evil known as Freddy Krueger. However, it had the opposite effect. Nancy still became a target. Marge did attempt to protect Nancy by barring up the windows to provide security. Yet as the film progressed Marge’s character regressed. Unable to withstand the truth of the situation Marge became “an alcoholic desperate to escape reality”.

In the end, she failed to provide care and support for her daughter. It was the mother’s past decisions that came back to haunt her child. Bp3 Both Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street had only one dysfunctional mother. Hereditary, on the other hand, had two dysfunctional mother figures. This film follows a tale of two “selfish women who sacrifice their family,”  Annie’s mother and Annie herself. Like Maureen from Craven’s Scream. Annie’s mother has already passed away and is first introduced at a funeral. She was a secretive woman who had “private rituals, [and] private friends”. The private life that she kept separate from her family is revealed to be associated with a cult that plans on sacrificing Annie’s children.

While it was Annie’s mother who first planted the seeds of ruin it was ultimately Annie who led to deaths of both her children, Charlie and Peter. Charlie’s death was not caused by Annie alone. However, Annie was the one who first placed Charlie in the life or death situation. If Annie didn’t force her daughter to attend a party then she would have never have had the allergic reaction that eventually led to her death. The death of Charlie causes tension between Annie and her son Peter, for her son was there at the time of Charlie’s death, unable to save her. This is where Annie reveals how she is unfit to be a mother. In a dramatic dream sequence, she screeches at Peter, that she “never wanted to be mother”.

Although she quickly corrects herself and assures him that she loves him “the sentiment she divulges comes from a place of naked honesty”. Deep down Annie truly never wanted to become a mother regardless if she loves her children or not. Her guilt quickly eats away at her sanity as she becomes increasingly desperate to see her daughter once more. Desperate enough to follow in her “mother’s craft and [hold] a séance that dooms her family”. The seance eventually causes the death of Peter, her husband, and even herself. Her selfishness and inability to cope caused her to fail as a mother. She was unable to protect her children and was unable to provide care and support for them in their times of need. These horror films show the importance of motherhood and the consequences a dysfunctional mother can have on her child. That a mother’s decisions will always impact their child.

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The Dysfunctional Mother is the Best Teacher. (2021, Dec 31). Retrieved from

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