The Old Ways

 “He knew the old ways…”

Matriarch, like much Folk Horror, is very concerned with the old ways. The old gods. The deities on offer from the before time are more transactional than the ones presented at the Mosque, church, temple or synagogue. Sure, Yahweh and Allah say that you can have eternal life, but you have to wait. The rice list is rather vague and you cannot know if you have paid enough and until it’s too late to offer more.   Not so with the goddess out in the bog. 

Jemima Rooper plays Laura, a successful advertising exec living in a luxury apartment and indulging herself in many bad behaviors. She’s an alcoholic and a drug addict without any meaningful relationships. One night she overdoes it, and dies. 

But then a black sludge enters her and brings her back. 

She returns to the village where she grew up and the mother she has been estranged from for more than twenty years. The always outstanding Kate Dickie plays her mother, Celia. 

Laura is sick. Her skin has strange dark patches, she has flashes of pain, fatigue. It is all very wrong in ways that she can’t understand. Her sickness is possibly mirrored by the village, which seems to have its own sort of rot. The church, once the center of village life, seems nearly abandoned. The vicar retired and hidden away. The people seem suspicious and weird - which is much the standard for British folk horror, but here it seems different. 

The matriarch plays as mystery, not unlike The Wicker Man. He repeats tropes that we are well versed in by now, but doesn’t seem tired and cliche. The climax recalls the Shunting from Society as much as anything from Folk Horror. 

This is a solid entry in modern folk horror and presents an interesting take on cults in film. 


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