MOTHER, MAY I?
starring Kyle Gallner, Holland Roden, Michael Giannone, Chris Mulkey
written and directed by Laurence Vannicelli
starring Rebeca Robles, Andy Gershenzon
written and directed by Christopher Denham
by Walter Chaw Laurence Vannicelli's sophomore hyphenate feature, the two-hander Mother, May I?, feels timid given the richness of its premise and, for the places it's not willing to go, really has only enough going for it for a short--a proof of concept, maybe, a long trailer that hints at dark psychosexual undercurrents. At its current length, it all comes to nothing, a gothic horror about possession and maternal/filial relationships that has all the elements but not the will to put them together. I heard a description once of serious cognitive decline as having a slice of bread in one hand, a toaster in the other, a bottle of jam and a butter knife on the counter, and having no idea how any of it comes together. That's Mother, May I?, which finds Emmett (Kyle Gallner) and his fiance Anya (Holland Roden) tasked with cleaning out his recently-departed mother's expansive manse in the woods, complete with a reedy lake and an overly friendly neighbour, Bill (Chris Mulkey). It's rich, made richer by a mindfuck game Emmett and Anya play in which they set a timer and then force each other to speak truthfully about past traumas before it runs out. Emmett has a few: his mother abandoned him at some point in the past, orphaning him in her affections, and her death has left him nothing but a windfall in the eventual sale of the family reserve. During one of their ersatz therapy sessions, Anya playacts as Emmett's dead mom, and Emmett starts wondering if his mother hasn't actually taken over Anya's body when she doesn't snap out of it after the timer goes off.