Guest Author: Erin Wilson
R | 87 min | David Farr | UK | 2015
David Farr’s The Ones Below (2015) has much in common with recent parent-horror treasures like The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014) and Goodnight Mommy (Severin Fiala and Veronica Franz, 2014). While viewing each one, I spent much of my time thinking: “This film is doing a great job making parenting look like a terrifying nightmare.” The Ones Below is a film about the myriad of horrors facing modern mothers. With understated intensity, Farr documents the struggles of new parenting, and the potentially horrifying consequences of the persistent scrutiny that mothers endure.
The film follows a woman named Kate (Clémence Poésy) and her husband, Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore), in the last months of her first pregnancy and first months of motherhood. “The Ones Below” are their new downstairs neighbors, Jon (David Morrissey) and Theresa (Laura Birn). Like Kate, Theresa is in the second trimester of pregnancy. In spite of that shared experience, these women could not be more different. Costuming and makeup choices highlight the contrast. Theresa’s appearance is always pristine. Her outfits are bright and coordinated, often complementing her husband’s, and her makeup is always immaculate. She looks more like a model in an ad for maternity clothing than an average pregnant woman. While Kate is certainly beautiful, she seems downright frumpy by comparison. She wears oversized clothes, her hair is usually pulled back in a low bun, and her makeup is minimal. Kate’s experience of pregnancy is uncomfortable, exhausting, and sometimes not very flattering. Theresa is what popular media would have us believe pregnancy is: a beautiful woman joyfully enjoying her pregnancy, glowing at all times. Read more