Exploring single moms in horror movies

One thing some of the greatest horror movies have in common is the thread of single motherhood. Single moms in horror movies are prevalent throughout many of the classics. A powerful theme often used in the horror narrative.

Single, successful actress Chris and her 12 year old daughter Reagan in the Exorcist. Andy Barclay’s struggling, single mother Karen in Child’s Play. Exploring the role of single mother and child is a storytelling tool that effectively illustrates the strength of the single mom through the lens of a horror movie.

Karen Barclay works tirelessly to support son Andy. Scraping together a salary so small she resorts to buying a black market Chucky doll. And we know how that turned out. We don’t learn that much about Karen and Andy. But it was clearly a special bond. Which only makes the conclusion more tragic. By the sequel, Andy is an orphan. (Karen sent away after her killer doll claims.) He’s sent to live with a foster family where he teams up with his foster sister.

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So what should we make of all these moms fighting off villains with, or for their child. Perhaps a metaphor for the challenges of motherhood. How it can fill you with joy, but also force you to face various demons.

Other powerful single moms in horror movies

Laurie strode in H20 and Halloween 2018

Laurie Strode is known for playing many roles. Victimized sister, protective babysitter, and in the 2018 reboot, a vengeful survivor. But another defining role she plays is that of single mother. First in H20 where she fakes her death. Then restarts her life under a new name. At a boarding school with her 18 year old son, John. After twenty years, Lori returns. But now, instead of babysitting, she’s devoted to her own son.

The 2018 movie picks up from the original ignoring the sibling storyline and the other films. Laurie is now the vengeful survivor of Michael Myers. A survivalist who also carries a grudge. Halloween 2018 also showcases a generation of women. Featuring both Laurie’s daughter Karen (not a single mom) and her daughter Allyson. Their bond is also a pivotal arc in the film. One that helps them to outwit the iconic villain.

Alexandra Medford and Sukie Ridgemont in Witches of Eastwick.

Alex (Cher) and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) are single mothers abandoned by their husbands. Along with their other best friend Jane (Susan Sarandon), they fall prey to the devilish stranger Daryl. Alex is strong willed. But she also falls for Daryl’s charming bravado.

Eventually the three friends overcome and defeat him. And then In the end, they’re each left a mother to Daryl’s sons.

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Mary Brady in Sleepwalkers.

Mary Brady is one of the most memorable single moms in horror movies. Her devotion to son Charles isn’t just obsessive. It crosses the line to incestuous. But who are we mere humans to judge the lifestyle of Stephen King’s mythical sleepwalkers. The 1992 cult classic explores the relationship between Mary and her son. The premise is extreme, but many underlying themes so relatable. A mom and child having only each other to lean on in tough times.

Lucy in the Lost Boys.

Lucy (Dianne Wiest) moves to Santa Carla, California with her two boys Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim). They all acclimate quickly to their new area. Straight into the underground world of vampires. Lucy’s recent divorce may seem like an unimportant detail. But it’s significant. Because It allows her to be available and open to dating new friend, Max.

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Carrie in Ghost in the Machine.

Single mom Terry (Karen Allen) and son Josh are a duo fighting against a virtual serial killer in this 90’s forgotten sci-fi thriller. Josh is a typical teenager. But banding together to stop Karl the killer is important. Because it also works as a bonding tool for these two.

Norma Bates in Psycho

It’s perhaps the most famous mother son relationship in horror movie history. Norman Bates and mother. The epitome of a parental relationship gone wrong. Norman’s devotion is frightening. Mother’s obsession, dangerous. So their bond isn’t just harmful to them. It also creates chaos and bloodshed.

So who are your favorite single moms in horror?

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