Pregnancy Complicates the Apocalypse in Mother/Android (2021)
First Non-Festival Release: December 17, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Mattson Tomlin
Writer: Mattson Tomlin
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Starring: Chloë Grace Mortez, Algee Smith, Raúl Castillo
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Young couple Georgia (Chloë Grace Mortez) and Sam (Algee Smith) are two survivors of the android uprising that has claimed the lives of millions of people. Trekking across the American Northeast, the pair must make it to Boston before Georgia gives birth to their child. They’ve made it so close that there are no more military outposts within the city’s limits, and they’ll have to risk running into no man’s land to reach their destination. Along the way the find themselves falling into increasingly dangerous circumstances and even a few traps.
Overly sentimental and contrived, apocalyptic sci-fi horror Mother/Android gets bogged down by unnecessary bloat.
Georgia’s journey is typical for this type of film. A woman must navigate being a first-time mother and how the pregnancy interferes with her life. Eventually, she learns to be self-sacrificing and put her baby’s needs before her own. While initially unsure of what she would do, Georgia does decide to give birth even if she is uncertain on staying with Sam, especially as he makes mistakes that affect her safety. Her choices inevitably lead to her forgiving him and stopping at nothing to save him and their family.
Chloë Grace Mortez is center stage and delivers a good but just short of great performance. The material is rough here so it’s easy to see why she struggles, but there aren’t many moments where she shines. In fact, her best performance comes at the very climax of the film where she must make a very difficult decision. It’s a tearjerker moment but otherwise her performance is mostly serviceable for the film.
At its heart, Mother/Android is a story of motherhood and how difficult journeys, and choices can be when facing the insurmountable. Very much a parallel to the current global refugee crisis, Georgia is intended to be a stand in for the many families of the world who are subjected to the horrors of war, poverty, and subjugation. It’s a compelling idea but unfortunately it gets bungled along the way with how it is handled. We see how Georgia and Sam are treated every step of the way. They attempt to do the right thing but are always fall as the victim to the whims of a tyrant or botched policy. It’s ironic given how the plot advances in the final act, but it doesn’t mix well with the themes presented in the first hour.
A clunky film without much meat to it, Mother/Android is another iteration of slick sci-fi apocalypse horror that doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from its contemporaries. The tonal clash of juggling so many genres and the odd pacing of the film makes its hard to get and stayed invested in the picture. It gets lost in its own explanation and geography to showcase how arduous the length of the journey is but feels more like a justification of its bloated runtime and sluggish pacing.
In the end, Mother/Android is a brainless sci-fi film that flirts with good ideas and themes that are worthy of appreciation. It’s always a nice change of pace to see a sci-fi horror have a greener color pallet, this must be an intentional choice to connect to the themes of motherhood and life. It helps to differentiate, if only a little, from similarly themed movies. Raúl Castillo’s brief moments onscreen are convincing, and he makes the most of his small part. His screen time is when the more engaging parts of the film open. It cannot go without say that there is one solid jump scare that took me by surprise, so credit is due to the filmmakers there as well.
It hits some of the right beats, but Mother/Android fails to stand out from the crowd with its well-worn tropes and statements about technology and humanity. Moretz gives it her all and brings enough emotional weight to the film as does Smith. The problem here lies with every memorable scene feeling lifted from far better executed and culturally ingrained sci-fi and horror films of old. It gets a bit too syrupy in the end, but the strength of Mother/Android comes from its impact on the audience. It’s hard to watch a family be destroyed but that is a necessity with the all-too-familiar plot of people running for safety when home can no longer provide it. Serviceable, if a little flat, the algorithms behind Mother/Android deliver competency in thrills, tears, and societal parallels.
Overall Score? 5/10