“If you’re up for the roller coaster ride, come take it,” Darren Aronofsky has said in countless interviews for his new movie, “mother!” While you’d be forgiven for thinking this is just another director hyping up his own work, Aronofsky isn’t messing around. The director’s new film is truly the most audacious, insane, and WTF studio release of 2017. Anyone buying a ticket because of star Jennifer Lawrence or because they think they’re in store for a home invasion thriller will certainly be baffled. Even if the plot has been spoiled for you, you’ll still come out utterly shellshocked.
“mother!” stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple whose lives spiral into madness when their home is invaded by many uninvited guests. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer play the initial intruders, but they are the first of many to wreak havoc on Lawrence.
There are more WTF moments in “mother!” than you can count, but these 10 will stand out for every viewer long after the credits go black. Spoilers ahead.
1. The House is Alive
The first truly WTF moment of “mother!” arrives early on. Lawrence is deciding which color paint she should use on a wall but is having troubling settling on the perfect hue. She places her hand on the wall and closes her eyes. Suddenly, Aronofsky’s camera glides through the surface to reveal a beating heart. Is the house alive? Did Lawrence just communicate with the house? Are Lawrence and the house one and the same? It’s in this moment where “mother!” warns you “the real world” is not exactly at play. Aronofsky will return to the heart in the wall multiple times throughout the film. The more the house is destroyed, the blacker the heart gets.
2. There’s Something Bloody in the Toilet
Jennifer Lawrence’s character finds herself cleaning up everyone’s mess more than once throughout “mother!” At one point, she spots some bloody tissues on the bathroom sink counter in the room where Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are staying. She goes to flush them, but there’s something bloody already in the toilet. It’s hard to make out what exactly is under the water, but it resembles a heart and/or intestines and it’s absolutely disgusting. Lawrence begins unclogging the toilet with a plunger and suddenly the organ bursts and gets sucked down the drain.
3. What’s Wrong With Ed Harris?
Ed Harris’ arrival is the start of many bizarre and frightening moments in “mother!” His refusal to listen to Jennifer Lawrence’s rule of not smoking in the house and his constant coughing are all alarming red flags, but nothing is quite as graphic as seeing him hunched over the toilet vomiting with a bloody wound. His injury is never outright explained, but it’s no coincidence Michelle Pfeiffer arrives at the house the very next morning. If the Biblical undertones have not clicked yet, only later will you come to realize that one rib has been taken from Adam (Harris) in order to create Eve (Pfeiffer), hence the coughing and the bloody wound.
4. Sibling Rivalry Turns Deadly
It doesn’t take long for hell to break loose after Harris and Pfeiffer’s twins unexpectedly barge into the home one day. “mother!” begins to overtly reveal its Biblical intentions with the Cain and Able-like introduction of these brothers, played by real life siblings Domhnall and Brian Gleeson. A long-standing rivalry between the two hits its breaking point after Harris’ will favors Brian over Domhnall. The brothers have come to the house to confront their father, but Domhnall’s rage gets the better of him and he brawls with his brother. What begins with throwing chairs ends with Domhnall taking a loose doorknob and bashing his brother in the skull. The impact lands with a body-cringing, bone-crunching thud. In one minute, “mother!” has gone off the rails in the most unexpected way.
5. The Entire House Becomes a War Zone
The Biblical undertones are quite subtle in the first half of “mother!,” so you’ll be forgiven for not catching every single reference on the first watch. The same can’t be said for the second half, where Aronofsky runs through the course of human history and fills the house with war, riots, refugees, and more. Every room Lawrence enters signifies a new chapter of history, and it gets crazier, more violent and more flat out inexplicable with each passing second. One moment you feel like you’re in a “Children of Men” war zone, and then suddenly you’re in a “Zero Dark Thirty” torture scene. Describing this prolonged sequence will never do it justice. It’s truly one of those movie moments you have to see to believe. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, it does in the blink of an eye.
6. Kristen Wiig: Locked and Loaded
Kristen Wiig arrives late to the party in “mother!,” but her relatively brief appearance takes no time in going from “Why is Kristen Wiig in this movie?” to “Holy hell, Kristen Wiig is shooting hostages at point blank.” Wiig plays the publisher to Bardem’s writer, and she is intensely obsessed with Lawrence for giving her client the inspiration to write his holy new work. As military forces begin storming the house and the chaos erupts into a full blown war, Lawrence stumbles into one room and finds Wiig shooting prisoners at point blank. The prisoners have bags over their heads and are handcuffed on the floor, a visual that evokes Abu Ghraib-like torture. The gun shots are fired with an exaggerated volume that pierces your ears. Seeing Wiig ruthlessly pulling the trigger is more insane than it sounds. Just as she encourages one of her henchman to “finish” Lawrence, a bomb explodes and kills her. Wiig probably has less than two minutes of screen time total, but they are beyond memorable.
7. A Baby’s Neck Gets Snapped
Perhaps the most WTF moment in all of “mother!” is the shocking fate of Lawrence’s child. Despite her best efforts to stay awake and protect her newborn, Lawrence falls asleep and Bardem turns their baby over to the crowd of worshipping looters. Watching Lawrence try and fight her way through the crowd to save her son is heartbreaking, but nothing can prepare you for the sight of the infant’s neck snapping. You only see a split second of it, but it’s enough to make you sick to your stomach. The crunch of the audio only makes matters more nauseating. Before you can even begin to recover, the crowd begins to devour the baby. It’s safe to this is the moment that will cause the most walkouts.
8. The Beating of Jennifer Lawrence
The death of her son drives Lawrence to the dark side. She takes some broken glass from the floor and begins slashing faces and throats left and right. One horrified mother is no match for a group of looters, however, and they pummel her to the ground and begin savagely beating her. Aronofsky does not shy away from the visuals here. We see Lawrence’s face getting smashed, her neck chocked, her body kicked left and right. Watching this brutality is sickening, but it’s even more shocking considering the victim is one of the biggest movie stars in the world. You can practically hear her bones breaking as the sound design becomes too unbearable for words.
9. Jennifer Lawrence Burned Alive
Lawrence puts an end to all the out-of-control madness by heading to the basement and setting the house on fire. Every character goes up in flames and the entire house explodes in a furious blaze. We even see Bardem get consumed by the fire, which makes the post-explosion shot of him walking around completely unharmed all the more WTF-worthy. But that’s nothing compared to the visual of a burnt-to-a-crisp Jennifer Lawrence still alive. The makeup work here is so stellar you’ll be squirming in your seat. Lawrence spends the final minutes of the movie completely burnt from head to head, skin peeling off her face and her flesh completely mutilated. We’ll probably never see Lawrence this way on screen again.
10. Jennifer Lawrence Gets Her Heart Ripped Out
Anyone familiar with the “mother!” marketing was probably waiting for this moment to occur. The first poster Aronofsky released was an illustrated image of Lawrence holding her bloody heart in her hands. It’s actually Bardem who gets the honor of ripping out Lawrence’s heart, his hand breaking through her burnt skin and pulling out her still-beating heart. Lawrence takes her final gasp and disintegrates to ash. Just because you think it’s coming doesn’t make it any less shocking.