For some of us, even the idea of motherhood is frightening. It signifies the shift from youth to maturity and that our bodies are capable of far more than simply transporting us from Point A to Point B. So it makes sense that fecundity prominently figures in many iconic horror films. Alien is an allegory for pregnancy. Ginger Snaps chronicles how hellish puberty can be. In Rosemary’s Baby, women are subjugated and reduced to vessels.
Continuing this trend, the short film Latched spins a Grand Guignolesque tale that follows Alana, a dancer and mother who sequesters herself in a cottage as she choreographs a show and weans her infant son. When she accidentally drips breast milk on the corpse of a mysterious woodland creature, she awakens an eldritch magic and soon learns that faeries aren’t the imps of storybooks that cast love spells and swap newborns for changelings. They’re grotesque and savage. And will kill to get what they want.
WARNING: SEMI-SPOILERS AHEAD.
The film is sweeping in scope. With its lush instrumental score and wide, wide shots of lakes and forested landscape, it has a distinctly fairy tale quality with the unsettling eeriness of Kubrick’s The Shining. You really get a sense of Alana and her baby’s isolation and vulnerability, and the looming evil threatening their idyll. Naturalistic dialogue and performances lend an organic fluidity and make characters all the more relatable. My one issue is that the action is lacking; I don’t expect all scary movies to be full of gore, but the chase and kill scenes could have been more structured and suspenseful.
As women, we often feel as though our bodies don’t entirely belong to ourselves. Film, television, and advertisements teach us to be decorative at all times for other’s viewing pleasure. On top of everything, we deal with constant pressure to fulfill our “womanly duty” and procreate. In Latched, Alana refuses to be pigeonholed. She’s single and balancing motherhood with dancing and furthering her career. And when a monster develops a craving for her breast milk and demands her body all to itself, she fights back. Altogether, the film is a creepy and enjoyable parable that adds to the horror genre.