Directed by Ben Steiner, Hulu’s ‘Matriarch’ is a folk horror film that revolves around Laura Birch (Jemima Rooper), a high-flying ad executive who finds herself overwhelmed by her work. After a cocaine overdose, she starts to believe that a supernatural entity has saved her life. However, Laura soon begins showing symptoms of a mysterious disease. Thus, when her estranged mother, Celia (Kate Dickie), urges her to come home, she reluctantly agrees, hoping her time in the place she grew up in will help her gain control over her issues.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen, and once Laura returns to her native village, she instantly remembers why she left in the first place. Moreover, she realizes a sinister force lurks in the picturesque settlement. As a film, ‘Matriarch’ explores dark themes such as abuse and addiction. If that has made you wonder whether it is inspired by actual events, we have you covered.
Is Matriarch a True Story?
No, ‘Matriarch’ is neither based on a true story nor an adaptation of a book. As a horror feature, ‘Matriarch’ has supernatural elements embedded into it, overshadowing the film’s realistic aspects. ‘Matriarch’ has been developed from a script by Steiner. The film marks his debut as a feature film director. “I’ve been making short films for over twenty years,” director Ben Steiner told Bristol 24/7 in an October 2022 interview.
Steiner stated, “They were never just a means to an end, and whether or not I get to make more features, I’ll definitely carry on making shorts. But I did always hope they’d lead to a feature film. And now they have. It is a dream come true, which I’m doing my best to enjoy while feverishly plotting my follow-up. I’ve got loads of scripts ready to go (at least I think they are!), so now I just need a producer and a couple of suitcases full of money.”
In 2018, Steiner released the short film ‘Urn,’ demonstrating his abilities as a horror filmmaker. The project was part of that year’s Huluween Film Fest, and both movies revolve around a toxic mother-daughter relationship. Produced by 20th Digital Studio, ‘Matriarch’ is one of the nine Hulu original features made predominantly by filmmakers from 20th Digital’s Bite Size Halloween Roster.
In October 2022, the filmmaker told Geek Girl Authority that the inspiration for ‘Matriarch’ came from ‘Urn,’ adding “…Then, Hulu asked me if I could expand it into a feature, and I jumped at the chance. ‘Matriarch’ has nothing in common with Urn apart from that toxic mother-daughter relationship. I live in Bristol, which is in the west of England. I’ve lived in it for eight years. It’s still relatively new to me. I’m into the landscape around here, which is damp, swampy and sludgy, and anciently mystical. So, that got pulled into it.”
Steiner explained to the same outlet that the goddess in his film, portrayed by Anna Frost, originated from a monster, the Worm Eater. “It’s based on a male monster called the Worm Eater,” he divulged. “The Worm Eater was the original type of matriarch I’ve drawn on several times over the years and is a demonic, anti-father who menaces his son at night with this mouthful of worms and weird tentacle thing. He wanted to be involved in this. But when he came into the arena, he became female.”
Stein continued, “It was only late that I realized that with the goddess, the “mother,” the Laura character, and Celia character, I had inadvertently written, or conjured, the triple goddess archetype of Maiden/Mother/Crone. Laura is the Maiden, and Celia is the Crone. Then, the goddess is the Mother.” Clearly, ‘Matriarch’ is not based on a true story, even though it has elements of truth embedded into it.
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