Mama | Crooked Media
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May 02, 2023
Ruined with Alison Leiby and Halle Kiefer

In This Episode

Halle and Alison kick off Mommy Issues Month and dine on cherries and rats as they ruin Mama.





[theme music]: If scary movies give you dread, keep you up late night in bed. Here’s a podcast that will help you ease your mind. We’ll explain the plot real nicely then we’ll talk about what’s frightening so you never have to have a spooky time. It’s Ruined. 


Halle Kiefer: Hi, everybody. Welcome to Ruined. I’m Halle. 


Alison Leiby: [laughs] I’m Alison. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, good. I’m so glad. 


Alison Leiby: Good. A—


Halle Kiefer: This is a, this is a podcast. 


Alison Leiby: Great start. 


Halle Kiefer: Where we ruin in a horror movie just for you. Alison, how are you doing? 


Alison Leiby: Just, for you. I’m doing all right. I’m indulging. And I think it’s going to be allegedly a big drink this summer, even though I’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s doing a cold brew with tonic. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, I’ve had espresso and tonic. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah. It’s more common to do it with like espresso, but I just have like, cold brew concentrate, but even works like I do the Grady’s cold brew and then—


Halle Kiefer: Ooh that sounds good. 


Alison Leiby: —like half tonic. And it’s just like, you know, once you pass the 12 p.m. mark, I’m like, I don’t need, like, a full, like, insane coffee. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But I still want a little caffeine, a little coffee drink. And it’s, it’s a halfway between a cocktail and a coffee and it’s heaven. So I highly recommend. 


Halle Kiefer: I feel like. I think it’s just my old age. Gin and tonic was my drink, and now I’ve gotten away from it just because of the sugar. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: I just end up having, like, terrible migraines the next day. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But I do still love tonic. [laughs] And so maybe this is my way in. 


Alison Leiby: Well like with this. You know, gin has sugar, like alcohol has sugar. And then, like, tonic, like quinine has sugar. So it’s like this is just only the tonic side, not also the alcohol. So maybe maybe it’s doable. 


Halle Kiefer: And also, let’s be honest, I’m not drinking five of those in an evening knowing me, so. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. You’re going to have one in the afternoon maybe. So it’s. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: It’s been a really lovely little, little drink. How are you doing? 


Halle Kiefer: I’m okay. I’m trying to think. 


Alison Leiby: Any horrors coming your way?


Halle Kiefer: I mean, um, we, I’m trying to think, oh, this isn’t a horror, but it is my we are, of course, doing this is mommy issues month. And my parents are coming to visit this month. 


Alison Leiby: Ooh. 


Halle Kiefer: We should do something with them. 


Alison Leiby: Have they seen this apartment? 


Halle Kiefer: No, they haven’t. So I really got to pull myself together. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I really got to, my my TV’s still on the ground. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I need to go get a rug. 


Alison Leiby: Uh huh. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it looks like I am a. 21. I feel like it’s a bachelor pad for a very young man. 


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: And I don’t know whether that’s just because I’m dating women now. And I do when I’m like, oh, I can’t bring a woman here yet. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. There has to be a little more sense to what they would be seeing. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yes.


Halle Kiefer: Especially women are age. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I’d be like they’re, if everyone was 21 who gives a fuck? You know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: That makes total sense. Now I my living room is so spartan as to, I think, be a huge red flag to— 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —anyone who would be coming over unless I lied and said I just moved in, which I did. But it was months ago now I haven’t really got a ton of furniture. 


Alison Leiby: I think that like six months is where like that’s I’m like six months—


Halle Kiefer: Okay. 


Alison Leiby: —in a place you can, like, be like I’ve been way I’ve been trying to find the right thing. I’ve been looking like I think it’s like if I walked over to someone’s place and they were like, yeah, sorry, I only have a couch and like, one chair, I just, you know, I moved in a couple months ago. I’d be like, yeah, all right. That works. 


Halle Kiefer: And not for nothing. L.A. is so fucking expensive and New York is too. 


Alison Leiby: It’s so expensive. 


Halle Kiefer: Where it’s like everything I look at, I’m like, I mean, again, to buy a rug, it. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s how you know, you make made it is you can buy a rug that’s not a piece of paper that you put on the floor. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: With a drawing printed on it. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And, you know, I’m working on it that’s why we’re doing this podcast. 


Alison Leiby: That’s why we’re doing it. 


Halle Kiefer: But, yeah, my my parents are visiting. I should be something with my mother. My mother always used to tell me about how she was reading Stephen King’s It when she was pregnant with me. And then she could never finish it because when she had a baby, she’s like, oh, no.


Alison Leiby: No, no, no. 


Halle Kiefer: All the kids in here are also someone’s babies. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Which is a pretty common experience, I think, of, you know, like any any kind of parents [both speaking] wants to have a child. It’s like, oh, no, everyone’s a child. Oh, I have a child. Like, sort of the childness—


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —of life is like you experience it in a different way where it’s like, oh, shit. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, shit. Yeah.


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. With that mind, we’re doing another movie, a movie from 2013, a movie I hadn’t seen in a minute. I think I saw this in the theater. Absolutely. Love this movie. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: Blast and a fucking half man. 


Alison Leiby: What a kick off to mommy month. 


Halle Kiefer: And yeah, the movie is, of course, 2013’s Mama. And speaking of the new It, Mama, it was directed by the one of the directors of the new It. His name is Andy Muschietti, Andrés Muschietti, and he’s an Argentinian Argentinean filmmaker. And Mama is based on a short film of his from 2008 called Mamá, which makes sense. 


Alison Leiby: Well that tracks. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s so good. I absolutely love it. Oh, he wrote it with his wife, Barbara, and Guillermo Del Toro, served as executive producer. And as soon as if you were once you saw the trailer, I feel like it does have a Guillermo del Toro vibe to it. For sure.


Alison Leiby: Yes. Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And very in a very fun twist. Jessica Chastain stars in this, which we love to see an A-list actor in, not that this isn’t a good horror movie, but like—


Alison Leiby: A smaller. 


Halle Kiefer: —for the Jessica Chastain’s of the world. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: This, she doesn’t do a lot of horror you know like. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: She is someone, it was shocking to see her pop up. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And an absolute treat And then her husband is played by oh, God, I’m sorry, Nikolaj William Coster-Waldau. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Who’s also from Game of Thrones. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: And it is—


Alison Leiby: A show we’ve both never seen. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes, but we have heard of it. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So please don’t be mad at us. 


Alison Leiby: That’s enough. 


Halle Kiefer: But yeah, the it is horror being one of the few genres of film where you could hire a nobody. It is fun to see not simply two somebodies, but two of the hottest people to ever live. Like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: If this happened in real life. Everyone would be like, We have to talk about your daughters. Oh my God, Are you both models? [laughter] Like, they’re so shockingly beautiful compared to like everyone else in the movie is like a normal person. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, if Jessica Chastain came into your office, you’d be like don’t look at me. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I can’t be in the same room. We can’t just, like, go about our business and not address how you look. 


Halle Kiefer: Please, I’m begging you. So let us begin. We are ruining, Mama. Alison. We always like to have Alison react to the trailer. Alison, what are your thoughts on the trailer to Mama? 


Alison Leiby: I didn’t like this one at all. 


Halle Kiefer: Uh huh. Let’s get into the specifics. What did you not like about it?


Alison Leiby: Okay, well, just like the like general, like the like unattended feral children. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Mm hmm, mm hmm.


Alison Leiby: That’s a really scary. I think like, the unpredictability of children in general is—


Halle Kiefer: Okay. 


Alison Leiby: —always kind of creepy because they don’t live in the same like society that we do. So, like, they’ll say things and do things out of place even when they’re not being tormented by perhaps their dead mother or a demon of some kind. 


Halle Kiefer: Uh huh. 


Alison Leiby: I didn’t like all of the drawings on the wall that they were doing. I don’t know how large that feature is in the actual movie [laughs] but it’s like you know—


Halle Kiefer: It’s pretty. Yeah, they’re they’re pretty extensive I would say. 


Alison Leiby: Like a back, like a upside down back with like a like a figure doing a walking around— 


Halle Kiefer: Back bend. 


Alison Leiby: —back handspring, back bend. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Alison Leiby: That I did. Mm mm. I didn’t like that one bit. And I’m just like—


Halle Kiefer: Yeah it’s impressive to see. That’s impressive to see in real life in a. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It was drawn by a child on a wall. It invites a lot of questions. 


Alison Leiby: Mm mm mm mm. And then you know, I guess like I’m just like who is Mama. Like what happened? 


Halle Kiefer: Who is Mama? 


Alison Leiby: I don’t want to know. 


Halle Kiefer: Who is Mama? 


Alison Leiby: But I very much do. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, it is we’ve talked so much of daddies on this program and to speak finally of mommies. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And this is I would say a Mama, but she’s a mother, right? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She is this is a woman with you give the full weight of the word to. We always like to take a baseline scary. Alison, how scary do you find the concept of motherhood? 


Alison Leiby: I mean, absolutely fucking terrifying. [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: And have you always felt like you didn’t want kids like? Or was it always—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —something you knew or was it something that you like sort of came to with age? 


Alison Leiby: I think it was more, I recognized like I could. It wasn’t that I like from birth was like, oh no, I’m not prepared [laughter] for the responsibilities emotionally and physically of motherhood but like—


Halle Kiefer: And you wouldn’t be at birth. 


Alison Leiby: Well of course not. 


Halle Kiefer: If you were a baby taking care of another baby, that would be a lot. 


Alison Leiby: Babies having babies? Mm mm. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm mm.


Alison Leiby: But I think it’s like over time I started recognizing that I could tell other people did have that in them, like that desire to be a parent. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And then I was like, I was like, oh, I’m recognizing the absence of something in me. Like it’s not an aversion. Like, I love kids. I like am not weird with them. I get along with all my friends kids like I think they’re wonderful, but like, I was like, oh, this is doing nothing in my brain to make me like, want. And now that I was like, oh, I wonder if, like, getting a cat will make me understand. I’m just like, oh, it only makes me like cats more. I’m like, more confident that I, like, absolutely have no interest in parenting another human. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I, I, I’ve also felt very, I think, conflicted about it. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Like I love babies. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And the idea of being pregnant—


Alison Leiby: Who doesn’t love a cute baby? 


Halle Kiefer: —I think it’s cool. 


Alison Leiby: Hm. Not me. 


Halle Kiefer: But there is something to the sort of the starkness of like it’s an irreversible experience. Right?


Alison Leiby: Well that is the permanence of it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah.


Alison Leiby: And like. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s intimidating, to say the least. 


Alison Leiby: And what it I understand that pregnancy sounds like it could be cool, but like. I don’t know. It sounds so scary—


Halle Kiefer: —It’s very body horror. I don’t know. 


Alison Leiby: It’s body horror. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know something about that I’m like there, you. I don’t just like making a little guy out of like the stuff. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You eat. That to me is the appeal [both speaking] that sounds fun, honestly. 


Alison Leiby: It’s cool in a way that I never want to personally experience. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And then also just depends like you pregnancy like people, you know, it, so, varies so wildly wild—


Alison Leiby: Yes. And we don’t study it. 


Halle Kiefer: And we don’t study it in America. I mean. Our mortality rates for mothers are horrible. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Black mothers in particular—


Halle Kiefer: Like Black mothers gets horrific treatment. 


Alison Leiby: Awful. 


Halle Kiefer: So it makes something that is already so vulnerable and so, so difficult. Even more isolating and difficult, obviously. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And I’ve heard this from like two two friends who are married with children that I was like, damn, this is a really excellent point. [laughter] I just hadn’t thought of it this way. Where both of them said, essentially, and I’ll name them my friend Meaghan O’Connell. She writes for The Romper, which is a parenting website. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: A lot of great stuff. 


Alison Leiby: Friend of the pod. 


Halle Kiefer: And then a wonderful writer Mary Lordes. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Who I know in New York and lives here. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Basically. Like the thing about having kids is even when you become a mother, people still treat you like a woman. So.


Alison Leiby: Wow. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: That’s. 


Halle Kiefer: Right.


Alison Leiby: Ooh. Dark. [laughs] 


Halle Kiefer: Cause motherhood is, and you know, again, like someone who is so recently straight and, you know, I was going to be a stepmother and loved, you know, my ex’s son and had a great time. To be fair he was like a toddler when I met him. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: So maybe [?] babyness of it is very intimidating. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: But there is like, you know, as for all women who are all and all women are supposed to be straight and I guess in the situation presumes cis obviously. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Is like your role is to conceive and carry a child and that is sort of part of your fate for a you know. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Cis man. And that is the program. And when you even when you do it, you are still like people still treat you as all women are treated, which is. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Like you’re a dumb ass. 


Alison Leiby: Yep. 


Halle Kiefer: Like you are like you are. Just every decision you make is questioned. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You are supposed to just this is supposed to be natural. So there is no one sort of talks about the support you need or the mental health. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like you have to find all that stuff yourself. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Which is incredibly difficult in our country. And. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: To begin with, and I hadn’t really thought of it in exactly that way. It’s like, damn, like even when you do what you’re supposed to do and achieve that thing I guess not achieve, I guess is how I think of it in my head. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like even when you you—


Alison Leiby: Become a parent. 


Halle Kiefer: And want children. I mean, these people wanted children. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Like they love their children. But it’s the experience of like, oh, okay, so like, we’re still out here just disrespecting me. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like I have this incredibly grueling, difficult job that requires a lot of like introspection and emotional like stability. And people are still just disrespecting you. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know. I to have it put that way, I’m like that really—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —sucks. 


Alison Leiby: Focusing on how you look after you have a baby. Like what?


Halle Kiefer: Oh my. Body after baby, I like listen, I love People magazine, but the magazines of the early—


Alison Leiby: Inhumane. 


Halle Kiefer: —2000s. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like my brain is fucking Swiss cheese from that shit. Truly.  


Alison Leiby: I know. It ruined an entire generation of people.


Halle Kiefer: You know. And I feel bad for the kids now because now it’s all just on TikTok and it is that it’s now—


Alison Leiby: Right. It hasn’t gotten much better. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And I feel like at least a lot on my TikTok, they you have these, like Gen Z moms where it’s like it is like the aspirational. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s like you are beautiful and your pregnancy was so easy. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And you’re married to your loving husband. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And or partner and your life seems perfect. Obviously that is not the reality, but when you are [laughs] when you do not have a child, this is the reality you’re presented with. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: When you enter, when you open the door and go into it, it’s like this is a lot more complicated. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, full of love, obviously, but so complicated. And we don’t want—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —to acknowledge the darker parts of it which are rage, you know, and it being just so isolated. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I feel like the dominant narrative from almost every person I know who has had a child is, Wow, there so much I didn’t know. Even as someone who was trying to educate themselves about this experience, all like even people who are like reading the books. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Are like on top of it and following, like there’s just still much so much horror that we obscure because we want women to continue and people to continue having children. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: And if you knew all this stuff, you would be a lot more questioning of like, whew am I going to do this? 


Halle Kiefer: And and I think even like the pain of labor. And also I’ll just say and I apologize, we haven’t done before, obviously people who are not women have children. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Trans women have children, nonbinary—


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —people have children. So I want to be inclusive. The the the the state of giving birth, being pregnant and giving birth, that the challenges of that, it’s almost like you can’t describe how painful it is because to understand something intellectually is so different than experiencing in the body, which I imagine is also beautiful, like I imagine like to also experience that in the body is a is a part of the beauty of it. But boy, it sure is gross. It is fucking—


Alison Leiby: Disgusting. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: —tough. And and then there’s a subset of this of which the second follow up question is what would you how scary do you find the concept of mother being a ghost? 


Alison Leiby: Oh. I mean. Not great. Especially this one, like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. It’s like. 


Halle Kiefer: Because you want her to be hot? Oh I’m sorry she has to be out here hot for you, Alison. She is a mother. She is a ghost. She is doing the best she can. Okay. 


Alison Leiby: But for these kids, it’s just like, oh, boy. It’s like she seems around and fucking with stuff. 


Halle Kiefer: And, and—


Alison Leiby: At least my mom, I know if she’s in my apartment or not. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Right. Yeah, she’s not sliding through the walls. Roaming. 


Alison Leiby: Right. I’ve got eyes on her, if I know she’s in the area, I can be like, don’t come over. Do come over. Like, stop touching all my stuff. Like, No, I’m not going to that. But like, ghost mother. I mean, she’s just. You can’t keep track of her. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s there. And the true power of a mother—


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —isn’t she always there anyways? 


Alison Leiby: She is always there. [both speaking] Every decision, every moment. She’s always there inside your head. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Every mother is a ghost, mother, if you think about it. 


Alison Leiby: True. 


Halle Kiefer: And I didn’t. So let us begin ruining Mama. Would you like to guess the twist before we begin, Alison? 


[voice over]: Guess the twist. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. I’m going to guess based on the trailer, because it seems like it’s like who is the mother of these like two children who seemingly are maybe evil? I’m going to guess that they find out, you know, ghost mother, dead woman, that she’s not their mother, that like—


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Alison Leiby: —it’s like that. Maybe they are the mother. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay, great. 


Alison Leiby: That they’ve been alive forever, that they’re kind of. 


Halle Kiefer: Ooh, okay. I love it. 


Alison Leiby: This other entity. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay. I love it. Let us begin ruining Mama. We begin, of course, with my favorite thing in the whole world. Words on the screen. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And those words, Alison, are simply. 


Alison Leiby: Hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Once upon a time. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: And luckily, we then also get a radio transmission. So we hear a radio program. So we know, we’re immediately oriented. And there. I think I love this movie. I think, you know, there are certain elements of it, the CGI that, you know, maybe don’t hold up ten years on. 


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: But I love this movie. I think it’s incredibly well done and a lot of single images that just convey so much information in a very neat way. For example, we hear the radio, you know, as we begin, it says, you know, the word to describe what’s happening is panic. And, of course, this comes with unthinkable, irrational behavior. Think of the crash of ’29, 1987’s Black Monday. All of those came with tragic suicides and murders. This collapse is no different. Alison, it’s 2008. 


Alison Leiby: 2008? [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: And the housing, and the housing market has bottomed out. 


Alison Leiby: I like that we often refer to the heyday movies for us as the [laughter] late nineties, those first few years of the aughts, because like, that’s when we were teens, but boy, isn’t 2008 more of our [laughter] heyday. It’s more of our history. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Alison I yeah it is really interesting like that yeah that time period because we were in our twenties, early twenties— 


Alison Leiby: Yeah we were working, I was living in New York and working and it was terrifying. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. I was in. So I don’t think I’ve talked to this far, but I have a master’s in library science. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And I literally graduated in 2008. And what we were told the whole time and I did love it. I mean, I had to. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, it took me 15 years to pay off the student loans, but I it we were just like, oh, well, all of these librarians are about to retire. So like, everyone’s about to be promoted. There’s going to be all these jobs in and that’s everything, its like archives, like digital, you know, archives. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: All different kinds. And then a bunch of people sort of lost any savings they had, so they weren’t going to retire any time soon. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: So and then I made the mistake of starting improv comedy. And here we are today, Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Here we are doing this podcast. 


Halle Kiefer: And. Can’t complain. And I guess it was worth it to have the housing market crash. I guess.


Alison Leiby: So that we could have this. [both speaking] Yeah, I was in book publishing and, you know it all went to shit, so. Different worlds. 


Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately. We took it better than our character. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: We’re about to be following. Whose name is Jeffrey. Jeffrey Desange.


Alison Leiby: Epstein? Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: No. Though they might be together in wherever they’re at. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. 


Halle Kiefer: Of course that would be hell. 


Alison Leiby: Hell. 


Halle Kiefer: We hear, of course, the radio play on. And there is a perfect horror image as we fade in. And it is a car sort of haphazardly drone up, drove up onto the curb with the driver’s side door open and the bing bong bing bonging. And—


Alison Leiby: I’m sorry. It’s the bing bong is bing bonging?


Halle Kiefer: The car, the big bong—


Alison Leiby: [beeping sound effect] It’s like a door is open. 


Halle Kiefer: Where the car pleads for you. The car pleads for you to shut it’s little door.


Alison Leiby: like the door is open and the keys are in. 


Halle Kiefer: The car says, I beg you, please, for God’s sakes. Shut the door.


Alison Leiby: Shut the door. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s in front of a gorgeous suburban mansion. It’s very Home Alone. 


Alison Leiby: Mm. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s immediately what I thought. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And we hear on the radio that two partners at CaptVillier Holdings were shot. Senior partner Laura Muller died on the site, and analyst Albert Bernard is in critical condition. Jeffrey Desange the third partner who was at the office at the time of the shooting, has now gone missing. Fortunately, Alison, we hear gunshots and then we cut to a little girl named Victoria. I know this opening scene too. Again. 


Alison Leiby: This is tough. 


Halle Kiefer: I think I’m just getting too old for this shit. [laughter] No but, like, there is something where it’s like okay, I got to—


Alison Leiby: No. Okay.


Halle Kiefer: —watch a three year old be terrorized. 


Alison Leiby: Aye. 


Halle Kiefer: And she looks up, she’s playing with, like a little deer, like a stuffed deer dangling it over her sister’s crib. That’s right. We’ve got a three year old and a one year old, Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, God. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. And the three year old is Victoria. The one year old is Lily. And their father, who is Jeffrey Desange and who absolutely killed his business partners. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Comes and scoops them up. And Victoria, he hands Victoria her little glasses because she’s a three year old with glasses? 


Alison Leiby: No, nothing is cuter. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. 


Alison Leiby: Also shout out to the really quick Truffles the cat. Do we all know Truffles the Kitty? 


Halle Kiefer: Oh no. 


Alison Leiby: On Instagram and TikTok. She is a big, fluffy black and white cat who works at an optometrist— 


Halle Kiefer: Oh my God. 


Alison Leiby: —where kids go for their glasses and so—


Halle Kiefer: That makes me really happy. 


Alison Leiby: They put little glasses and sometimes eye patches on her so that the kids feel more okay needing to wear glasses or eye patches for corrective vision stuff. And it’s just so sweet. 


Halle Kiefer: I love that. 


Alison Leiby: So everybody go watch Truffles. 


Halle Kiefer: So this is about to be the opposite of that Alison, I’d say. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah I would imagine that the vibes of Truffles being like glasses are okay for everyone it’s very different from whatever Mama is going to bring us. 


Halle Kiefer: They, neither of them are old enough to basically like I only flag how young they’re because they’re not old enough to survive without a little help from Mama. 


Alison Leiby: Mama. 


Halle Kiefer: He hands Victoria her glasses and she says, isn’t it mommy taking me to school? Jeffrey tells her Mommy’s not feeling well. Alison, we just heard a fucking gunshot, so we know what that means. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, that she’s not. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And she drops her little stuffed deer on the ground. They. And they have a wiener dog who we later find out is name Handsome. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: I want to wiener dog so fucking bad. 


Alison Leiby: I love them. 


Halle Kiefer: And I loved the inclusion of a wiener dog in this film. I there should be a wiener dog in every film. 


Alison Leiby: Every film. 


Halle Kiefer: Jeffrey is then speeding down a snowy mountain road. He is crying. His daughters are in the backseat, and Victoria is asking, Daddy, where are we going? And he says, I don’t know. And he speeds up. This is like slick, like your side of a cliff is rocketing down, unpaved or on a plowed streets. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And Victoria, she’s three, but she knows enough and she screams, you’re driving too fast. And he turns, he says, shut up. And the car goes into a skid. And immediately they hit the edge of the road and they just go right down the side of the mountain. 


Alison Leiby: Hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Back at the mansion, we see the cops are cordoning off the area and we see Lucas Desange, Jeffrey’s brother, who is played by the same actor, which I thought was like, oh, good, you could you could play both. You didn’t have to step out after—


Alison Leiby: Yeah that’s great. 


Halle Kiefer: —first scene, he runs up and says, where is my brother? Are the girls okay? 


Alison Leiby: Hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: We cut to the car is wrecked, but all three of them have survived. So we’re following their—


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: —footprints in the snow. It’s freezing. These girls are three and one. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: He is having a mental breakdown, obviously. And he staggers through the snow with his daughters and her. We see that Victoria’s glasses are broken. Eventually they find a cabin and you could tell from 100 paces this cabin is fucking haunted. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Everything. You saw the trailer jet black.


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: It is the middle of the day. There’s snow everywhere. It’s like a void. It’s Vantablack. You know.


Alison Leiby:  Vantablack. The funniest black.


Halle Kiefer: The vibe is Vantablack. So Jeffrey rushes towards the door, and Victoria sees a figure moving inside and says, Daddy, there’s someone in there. He ignores her and takes her inside. And it looks like it was fabulous at one point. Like it’s like very seventies—


Alison Leiby: Yes I’m sure. 


Halle Kiefer: —furniture and it’s right on a lake. And he starts busting up some of the furniture for firewood, he builds a fire. The kitchen is full of rats. And he finally he goes, he puts the girls in front of the fire and he goes to the hallway to collapse and sob. Like you do. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I would. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Victoria calls him and says, Daddy, there’s a lady outside. She. She’s not touching the floor. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, God. [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: Okay, I’m going to flag this. I don’t normally do a content warning. You’re going to want to skip the next 3 minutes. I would say if the idea of having a gun trained on a child is something you don’t want to hear, feel free. I wouldn’t normally do this, but again, I was watching it like, I am not in the mood for this today. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. No, yeah no. Not in this country.


Halle Kiefer: But he takes a gun out of his suit coat and unfortunately, like there is this phenomenon in society, these family annihilator, these. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, workplace homicides and this, you know, specifically in in America, you do have a lot of these stories. There’s this horrible story, this family, like entire family being murdered in Celebration, Florida. And it was, of course, the story of like the father, if I don’t know if he was running a, a scam, but like he was his financial life had bottomed out and it he killed his entire family. And it’s sort of like the illusion of the perfect life, which is what this family had. And then in financial dire straits, this man killing everybody. 


Alison Leiby: Hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And which is scary to think about. And it’s more scary because it does happen, so. 


Alison Leiby: Yep. 


Halle Kiefer: He takes the gun out of his suit coat and he sort of gestures to Victoria like, oh, look outside. And she says, why are you crying? He tells her moms and dads, try real hard, but sometimes they mess things up. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: I guess so. Man. Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Messed up. That’s not a bad way of saying what’s going on. It is messed up. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: He takes off Victoria’s glasses and he points out the window and she looks and he raises the gun and points to the back of her head. Luckily, Victoria is about to get some help in the form of a Mama. As Jeffrey raises the gun, we see two blackened wizened hands grab his face and sort of haul him up into the air— 


Alison Leiby: Blackened wizened, tough.


Halle Kiefer: Like it looks like like a bog mummy, you know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Where it’s like it has skin‚ 


Alison Leiby: I know exactly what kind of skin you’re talking about. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. Good. I’ve taught you well over these years, Alison. [laughter] And in a really, I think, a really great effect of this movie does an excellent job of we wait so long before we see Mama. And honestly, when we see her, it’s like I probably didn’t have to see the whole thing, but like, the glimpses of her are so scary. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So Victoria turns, we see her blurred vision. Her glasses are now shattered on the floor, so she can’t even use her glasses. 


Alison Leiby: Oh my God. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see her father like this vague form being lifted up by this black, shadowy, swirling mass. And the figure snaps her father’s neck and drops his corpse like a sack of potatoes. Mother. 


Alison Leiby: Mother. 


Halle Kiefer: Has arrived. 


Alison Leiby: Are we to imagine Mama who just killed Dad, is the woman who was outside not touching the floor? Okay.


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yes. I think this is her, local haunt. [laughter] I think this is where she is tied. I guess it’s nice that she could go outside and I will say there are some questions about the physical reality of what’s going on, because I do have some questions too where I’m like. Is she allowed to just go outside? Allowed to go where? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I guess Mama does what Mama wants.  


Alison Leiby: Is there a perimeter that she can’t go beyond or?


Halle Kiefer: We don’t need to get bogged down in semantics. 


Alison Leiby: Mm mm, nope. 


Halle Kiefer: But we see this again, this shadowy figure drag Jeffrey’s body out the front door and Victoria follows trying to call for her father. She doesn’t know what’s going on.


Alison Leiby: Right. She can’t see. 


Halle Kiefer: And that night the girls sit in front of the fire that Jeffrey built and from the shadows rolls a cherry. Alison. It’s the dead of fucking winter. Ali, where did she go? Trader Joes?


Alison Leiby: Where did that come from. Right, what?


Halle Kiefer: Even if there were cherries in the, I’m sure there could be cherries in the woods. Baby, it’s the middle of the winter where did you get those?


Alison Leiby: It’s winter [?] cherries now. It’s a summer fruit.


Halle Kiefer: And Victoria picks up the cherry, and she turns. And in the darkness of the corner of a room, you see what looks like a woman’s figure. And her hair is constantly floating around her face as if she’s submerged in water. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And she’s wearing a shroud. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: And I feel like I’m entering my shroud era. 


Alison Leiby: What else would you wear to haunt you unless except for a shroud?


Halle Kiefer: Exactly right it’s not scary. If you wear it like, you know.


Alison Leiby: A pant suit.


Halle Kiefer: A two piece. Yeah. I want a shroud. I want to wear ashes on my face. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: 2023, year of the shroud. Under the credits, we see some children’s drawings. Obviously Lily and Victoria. We see them napping. We see Lily and Victoria playing with some of the omnipresent black moths that are constantly flying around the cabin. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: Got to play with the moths Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Got to play with the moths. 


Halle Kiefer: We see more drawings. We see Jeffrey’s body being eaten by wolves. We see the girls on the roof of the cabin. 


Alison Leiby: Oh good. 


Halle Kiefer: And then seemingly flying around the trees. 


Alison Leiby: Okay.


Halle Kiefer: We see Lily eating a rat while Victoria frowns, and then both of them eating rats and crawling around on their hands and knees. And I do think once you see the rats, I was like, oh, okay, I guess you could eat cherries and rats. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: But you need a carb, right? 


Alison Leiby: You would need a carb. 


Halle Kiefer: To keep weight on? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Especially a child.


Alison Leiby: Over a long time. Yeah. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. This is it they’re not trying to get—


Alison Leiby: Shredded. 


Halle Kiefer: —swimsuits. Yeah, they’re going to get ripped. They, children. Children need carbs. 


Alison Leiby: [laughs] Children need carbs.  


Halle Kiefer: We. We cut to present day. Lucas, their uncle gets a call from Burnsie who is a man that he has hired, like a private investigator to do or a private search person? I don’t know how that works. 


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: But is paying him to do the search they have never found the car. They have been unable to find the car and they’ve been looking for four years. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. I was going to ask like, where are we on time, four years oh okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, but Lucas has not given up. He wants to find his brother. You know, he presumably assumes the worst about his brother and his nieces, but he pays, you know, this person every month. And he has sort of like a homeland style board of a corkboard, like with Post-its and photos, including the photo of a tunnel under like an overpass. 


Alison Leiby: And. Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: None of them they could even find the site of the crash. Burnsie on the phone says, I hate to ask, but your last payment didn’t clear. So meanwhile, in the bathroom, we find Lucas’s girlfriend, Annabel, played by, bitch, it’s Jessica Chastain. 


Alison Leiby: It’s Jessica Chastain. 


Halle Kiefer: The wig choice they made for her. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, Outrageous. 


Halle Kiefer: Is unbelievable. 


Alison Leiby: Wild. I, I knew she was in it because it was like in the in the trailer, like as they’re kind of like giving credits for actors, but like, it, like, took me a minute to, like, even realize I was like, oh, that’s her. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: It is. It is. Liza Minnelli. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It is supposed to be punk rock, but it is just the most I don’t even know what like 2002? Like, I don’t even know what era it’s from. I think it was supposed to be like moody because she is in a rock band, which is going to be constantly brought up. 


Alison Leiby: Oh good. 


Halle Kiefer: Like as if she’s a serial killer. Like, it’s like, it’s like you’re and also they did like Jessica Chastain with that haircut in a rock band. Like, the whole thing is, again—


Alison Leiby: It’s a lot. 


Halle Kiefer: —I’m not saying she couldn’t. I’m saying she doesn’t. You know. 


Alison Leiby: It’s a hat on a wig. 


Halle Kiefer: She looks like a French film star. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: She just looks like a movie star, you know? And I do like it’s like she could carry that. As someone who has to have a lot of hair to like it’s the only thing that stands between my face having a shape and the—


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —total dissolution of the face. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s an incredible choice to put her in insane wig like that. 


Alison Leiby: It really is. 


Halle Kiefer: And again, she’s not Mama, though. That’s how we know she’s punk rock. 


Alison Leiby: She’s not Mama. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s not here for these kids. 


Alison Leiby: Mama would never. 


Halle Kiefer: And we know that because we are shown her sitting over a pregnancy test and she looks at it, it’s negative and she looks to the heavens and she smiles and says, thank you, God. And who hasn’t been there? 


Alison Leiby: I mean. Not me? [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Well, sure, but I mean, at some other point. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Or hey, in the future, Alison. 


Halle Kiefer: Sure, sure. 


Alison Leiby: You know, I mean, listen, until menopause hits any day now for me, I can’t. I honestly can’t wait. 


Alison Leiby: Fingers crossed. 


Halle Kiefer: It made me think of a I had a friend from college, Martha, who would Catholicism really fucks up your understanding of well, not only motherhood, but sex and—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —pregnancy. Like because because of the fear of abortion and the fear of becoming a mother. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And I remember she would constantly be taking pregnancy tests like probably [laughter] I mean multiple pregnancy tests a day. 


Alison Leiby: Like unnecessarily. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.


Halle Kiefer: And wasn’t on birth control because Catholics also—


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: —super fucked up about birth control so then you had to like go through this mental hurdle to go on that. And, you know, and I remember and I say Catholicism ruined my relationship to sex absolutely. And I remember Martha, it was she was like calculating how how much money she had spent on pregnancy tests. And I said, I hate to say this, but I think with that amount of money, you could probably go to a therapist and talk to them about like, why you need to take so many pregnancy tests. She said and I’ll always remember, she said, yeah, but the therapist can’t tell me whether or not I’m pregnant. Well, she fucking got me. 


Alison Leiby: Correct. 


Halle Kiefer: 100%. There’s no relief—


Alison Leiby: That’s right. 


Halle Kiefer: —like that relief. And imagine, if you want to get pregnant and then you get to see you’re pregnant, I imagine that’s also—


Alison Leiby: That’s also a relief. Yes.


Halle Kiefer: It’s. Yeah, it’s given. It’s given no matter what. Any who, she joins Lucas and Lucas is sort of flopped onto her onto his bed. And she’s so flippant about the search for his dead loved ones. You know, she’s like, are they searching Sector X7 today, and she’s eating a bowl of cereal. I would leave someone over that kind of joke. 


Alison Leiby: 100%. 


Halle Kiefer: They also have Handsome, the wiener dog. They inherited him and he tells her the payment didn’t clear. And, you know, she straddles him in this very cinematic girlfriend move and basically he has spent all the money that he received from his brother’s estate. But she says if you want to spend every dime searching for your brother, that’s fine with me. And she says it’s cheaper than therapy. So she is on board, but only in this very—


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —one foot in type way. 


Alison Leiby: Like you do you. 


Halle Kiefer: Which is tough when your partner is on a multiyear search for his missing nieces and—


Alison Leiby: And brother. 


Halle Kiefer: —homicidal brother. I think you kind of got to be all in. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, I think that’s not necessarily someone you can jerk around [laughs] is my opinion. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: If I was in that situation. Alison in the woods, Burnsie’s there with his friend and I choose to believe lover Ron. He goes to take a piss and finds the car. They have finally found Jeffrey’s car. But of course there’s no bodies in it. So they give they have a bloodhound. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And they give him Victoria’s little deer doll. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And he takes them right to the cabin. 


Alison Leiby: Wow. Would your scent last four years? 


Halle Kiefer: I think so. I think, again. 


Alison Leiby: Wow. 


Halle Kiefer: I think there is some not necessarily a consensus on like tracker dogs. Like I think there is a little bit of more much like a lot of police science, like they’re maybe not as hard and fast, but my understanding is like, yeah, they can. Like if you have—


Alison Leiby: Wow. 


Halle Kiefer: —something that belong to them, they find the cabin immediately it’s very spooky inside. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: There is a pile of cherry pits three feet tall in the kitchen. 


Alison Leiby: Ugh. So upsetting to see. 


Halle Kiefer: And they see this little rough hewn doll made out of like an old, wizened apple and and thread and leaves. And Ron turns and out of the darkness of the stairwell. And that’s another thing I love about this movie. It is pitch dark inside everywhere, no matter if it’s broad daylight. 


Alison Leiby: Terrific. 


Halle Kiefer: The difference between day and night in this film is irrelevant. It’s always night time.


Alison Leiby: It’s like a casino. 


Halle Kiefer: Out scrambles Lily who is walking on all fours like scuttling like an insect covered in filth. As she would be. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And has sort of a faded flower crown on her head, which is also covered in grime. And they watch as she kind of climbs like a spider up the kitchen counters to the top of the fridge. Where Victoria also covered in filth crouches and they start moaning and chittering because they can’t they haven’t spoken out loud. And Lily doesn’t know how, you know. And the men, of course, react like they’ve seen a ghost. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: A ghost mother. Cut to Annabel, rocking out with her rock band. This is the exact kind of shit I love where it’s like. I don’t know, man. It’s a rock band. They play music. She’s got a Ramones shirt. It doesn’t matter. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah that’s it. If the hair is dark, that’s all you need to know. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Right. Bitch. She’s got a lot of eye makeup on, grow up. She’s about to become a mama, you know [laughter] and not that not that beautiful, traditionally beautiful women can’t rock out. I just— 


Alison Leiby: It’s just—


Halle Kiefer: —a little. 


Alison Leiby: Something. 


Halle Kiefer: A little grime, a little something if you’re gonna put Jessica Chastain in that in that role, they’re practicing. Lucas bursts, bursts in and says they found the girls. They rush to meet the girls who are at a facility of some sort. 


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: An institute, as there are in many of these films. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Where they meet Dr. Dreyfuss, who is a child psychologist, is going to work with them. Because these kids have been feral, they have been alone—


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: —in the woods. And so he’s both excited and also horrified. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: By what he’s finding. 


Alison Leiby: Understandably. 


Halle Kiefer: And Annabel even brings her attitude to meeting this man in this extremely stressful, like, vulnerable. He’s like, oh, you must be Annabel. She says, I must be. Bitch save your attitude for tomorrow. 


Alison Leiby: That’s not—


Halle Kiefer: Or the second time you meet this guy. 


Alison Leiby: That is not going to go far. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, that’s not, that’s not a mama attitude, right? 


Alison Leiby: Mm mm. 


Halle Kiefer: And he tells them, okay, so Victoria is eight and Lily is six now. Okay, so it’s five years. Sorry. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And he’s like, the road is going to be long. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So do not assume that this is going to be normal any time soon. And he takes in this sort of a bedroom playroom with a two way mirror sort of Megan style. And they watch the girls, they move in this inhuman way. It is so well done. Lily sort of pads the carpet like an insect. They both clamber around on all fours, skittering. 


Alison Leiby: Skittering. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re constantly jerking away from the light and hiding in the shadows. Dr. Dreyfuss hands Lucas Victoria’s glasses. So they have a new pair of glasses to give her. She hasn’t had her glasses on in five years. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: He enters the playroom and Victoria snarls and lashes out at him. He’s like, no. And he hands her the glasses. He tells her, when you were little, you wore these and she picks them up and she realizes on some level what they are and puts them on. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And you can see like once again. It’s a very it’s a subtle way to play this. It’s like as soon as she has her glasses on, she is like more human. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Like she is now remembering those three years of her life where she was, what didn’t live in the fucking cabin in the woods, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Right. And could see.


Halle Kiefer: And she looks up says, yeah, she says. Daddy? He says, oh no, I’m Uncle Luke, remember I’m your uncle. And she touches his beard and says, Dad? And hugs him. And I’m like, ugh. And of course Annabel is also watching it and we’re seeing the she has the first stirrings of Mother awakening. You know. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: She is seeing seeing this. Doctor Dreyfuss is showing them video of Lily crawling around, you know, like a spider. He says—


[clip of Daniel Kash]: In order to survive such extreme isolation, the girls created an imaginary guardian, a parent figure to feed them, sing to them, protect them. They called her Mama. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see the girl sort of chatting with the air and like raising their hands up to the air, grabbing at it. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately, they actually have to go to court because they’re being challenged for custody by the it’s the girl’s mother’s, Aunt Jean, whose whole thing is. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: I understand you love these girls—


Alison Leiby: Mama’s sister? 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yes. So it’s the no sorry, the mama’s aunt. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So it’s the great aunt. The girl’s great aunt. She’s trying to get custody. And there is a level of, like, your brother killed my niece, so fuck you. You shouldn’t get the kids. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But I think she’s on some level trying to play ball to get to be in the kid’s life. But she wants custody. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And Luke is enraged, and she sort of sniffs at their bohemian lifestyle. They look like they’re doing better than everybody. You know, she’s in a rock band. I guess that’s her full time job. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And he’s a designer, which is a job. I don’t know why—. 


Alison Leiby: That’s a job


Halle Kiefer: —they think it’s, you know, like, so crazy. 


Alison Leiby: Bohemian. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But afterwards, Luke is talking to Doctor Dreyfuss and he’s like, well, maybe there’s some truth to it. You draw pictures for a living. Annabel plays in a band, which, again, people treat like she’s Aileen Wuornos, like they can’t believe. Look at her. She’s hot she’s playing in a band? What kind of people are you? Do you have room for children in your life? Especially very traumatized children? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: My opinion is these bitches were raised by a ghost or something. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: I think any, this is going to be a vast improvement for them, you know, no matter what. 


Alison Leiby: Anything is going to be better than just eating cherries and rats for five years in the dark. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. Unless you try to get it tight, [both speaking] you’re trying to like drop those lbs. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, that is a real like, slimmed down diet. 


Halle Kiefer: That would work. Dr. Dreyfuss—


Alison Leiby: The diseases from the rats alone would just—


Halle Kiefer: Oh, yeah. Ooh, the parasites. Oh, that’s how you get it down. That’s how you get that little waist. Dr. Dreyfuss says the court needs his recommendation. So he basically says, play ball with me. I know you don’t want the girls to moved away. I don’t either, because I want to continue studying them. If you let me continue to study them, I will pay you and we will pay for a house for you guys to live in. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: I will make this a part like this will be a project of mine. But you have to let then I will be the psychologist. They’re they say we’re going to talk about it. They’re obviously going to take it. They don’t have room. They live in a studio apartment, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And there’s all this press because it’s such an insane story. So Luke and Annabel leave the court and Luke and Jean get into a confrontation in front of the media. And Jean says, I just want to see the kids. And Luke says, you can you get visitation rights. You can literally come over. We just need a little time to get sorted. Like, you can obviously be in their life. You just we just see like a couple of weeks or something. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, at the institute, the girls are going to live there until they move into the big house. Dr. Dryefuss hypnotizes Victoria and she tells him a story. 


Alison Leiby: Mm. 


Halle Kiefer: A long time ago. Once upon a time. A long time ago, a woman escaped from a place for sad people. She took her baby and she jumped. And he says—


[clip of Daniel Kash]: How could you know that story Victoria? Did Mama tell you that story? 


[clip of Megan Charpentier]: She showed me. 


[clip of Daniel Kash]: How? 


[clip of Megan Charpentier]: In a dream. 


Halle Kiefer: Cut to Annabel, breaking up with her band, telling the frontwoman Nina. And Nita has, which I think is a reasonable reaction, I wouldn’t do this, but Nina goes, you need to break up with him. This is—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —is too much. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But Annabel is in love with him and cannot feels like she cannot abandon him, but also is not a mama. 


Alison Leiby: Mm mm. 


Halle Kiefer: Does not want children as we saw as we so eloquently saw. 


Alison Leiby: That is not mama hair. 


Halle Kiefer: And Nina basically said this like you’re in a rock band. You can’t just leave and become a mother. You can’t be a mother and want to rock. I’m sorry. They’re incompatible. [laughter] And Annabel tells her I was in a rock band. So again. 


Alison Leiby: Oh God. 


Halle Kiefer: Like all good mothers should, she abandons herself to be there for her children and for maybe an extra special guest. 


Alison Leiby: Oh boy. 


Halle Kiefer: Who will also be coming with them to the new house. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, I bet. 


Halle Kiefer: Once they move in, we see that like their first day there the girls join them, Victoria, because she again had more years outside of the cabin, has progressed much faster. She’s wearing normal clothes. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She has her glasses. She’s not very emotive, but she’s, you know, like able to engage with them. 


Alison Leiby: And they’re verbal. 


Halle Kiefer: So Victoria is verbal. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Lily is not.


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Lily is like sort of like skittering and grunting and she makes noises, but she never learned English. You know, I guess you think your sister would have taught her. Maybe they speak some sort of Creole or something. But anyway, she just she’s nonverbal entirely. So she kind of clicks and whis—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —whistles and moans and stuff. And. Which is tough when you’re in kindergarten. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s a tough one. 


Alison Leiby: That’s a tough one. 


Halle Kiefer: So she’s she she’s more comfortable on all fours and without shoes. So she’s kind of always bear crawling around and she hides behind her sister and she always has like bruises on her and she always has like a dark substance around her mouth. And we’ll find out later what that is. But if I was— 


Alison Leiby: Oh good. I’m glad. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. If I was Annabel and Luke, I think we’d be like, what the fuck is on your face? Why are you getting all—. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —I’d be a little more involved in like, what the hell are you doing? What’s going on?


Alison Leiby: I’ll be keeping tabs on that and, like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Really trying to figure it out. 


Halle Kiefer: But Annabel gets down on their level and, you know, she says, you know, we’re going to figure it out. It’s going to be great. And Lily whispers, Mama. But Annabel stops her and says, nope, you can call me Annie. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Or whatever. We’ll figure it out together. But immediately really balks at being called Mama. 


Alison Leiby: Mama. 


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, there’s so they go to the backyard, gorgeous. And it’s a gorgeous home. Lily is scampering and jumping into the big moving boxes like a cat would do. She’s having a good time, and we get to see Victoria reunite with their wiener dog, Handsome. 


Alison Leiby: Aw. 


Halle Kiefer: And it is played, like I loved it. I loved the emotional throughline of the story was this wiener dog. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I love that. 


Halle Kiefer: And—


Alison Leiby: They’re so lovable. 


Halle Kiefer: She meets the dog, then she turns back to Luke, Annabel and Dr. Dreyfuss and Victoria has a smile on her face. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately this is sort of like where the girls start to separate. Lily is not having any of it. She objects to it. She wants to do what she will do. For example, Victoria, she eats with her hands but Victoria will sit at the table. Lily is under the table. She’s in the corner. She doesn’t want to sit on a chair. She’s, you know, too uncomfortable. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And then at night they’re in. They have. They share the same room. They have two different beds. Victoria sleeps in her bed and Lily sleeps under her bed for safety. 


Alison Leiby: Aye. Okay, I mean, I get it, but it’s spooky. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah. And of course, Annabel, and Luke, have no experience, and Dr. Dreyfuss is doing his best, and he’s doing his best. But he was intrigued by the story that Victoria told him. So to do more research, he goes to, not fuck the public library. They fucking wish. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s going to the Clifton Ridge Public Records office. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Ge’s getting those public records, Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Yes. Public records. A microfiche, perhaps? 


Halle Kiefer: He’s going deeper than the fiche. 


Alison Leiby: Woah. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s going just pure paper. 


Alison Leiby: Just paper? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Whew. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s. That’s the level of commitment. 


Alison Leiby: Wow. 


Halle Kiefer: Because if you have a doctor, if you’re a doctor in a horror movie, you have a punch card and every 12 visits to the public records office, you get one free ghost mother. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: So, yeah, this guy is opening— 


Alison Leiby: Ready to redeem that one I bet. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: This guy is opening dossiers. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see the records woman who I in my mind refer to as the records queen. She has a four foot long gray braid, as she should. 


Alison Leiby: Ugh. I like having just cut off all my hair. I’m like, now I wish I had a four foot long gray braid. 


Halle Kiefer: Hey, hey. 


Alison Leiby: It’ll it’s gonna happen. 


Halle Kiefer: Time’s on your side Alison. It’s gonna happen. 


Alison Leiby: It’s gonna happen. 


Halle Kiefer: I have faith in you. But she says I didn’t find any police reports of what you’re describing between 2008 and 2012, which is the year the girls were missing. 


Alison Leiby: The murder? Oh. Okay.


Halle Kiefer: And there are no psychiatric hospitals in Clifton Forge. And we realize that he is. He has heard the story that Victoria’s told about the woman who escaped from a sad person’s hospital. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And is thinking, did this person take care of them? Because how else would they have survived unless somebody was taking care of them? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Maybe that person was mentally ill. Maybe that person left like whatever—


Alison Leiby: Like, right, right, right.


Halle Kiefer: But how else like that story must have been, Mama. Like, there must—


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: —have been a physical woman to take care of them. 


Alison Leiby: Because how else could they have survived for five years? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: In a dark cabin. 


Halle Kiefer: And I’m like, that’s a good psychologist. He’s looking up the logic of your dreams. He’s doing his due diligence. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And she says there’s no psychiatric hospitals for 200 miles, but there is Saint Gertrude’s asylum. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, good. 


Halle Kiefer: And he says, well, I thought you said there weren’t any psychiatric facility. She says, oh, there’s not. This one got shut down in 1878. But because she’s a fucking bad ass bitch and all she does is look at records all day. She said I went through the all of the records, which I don’t understand. Like, how many records maybe they don’t have that many. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I guess. Yeah, maybe it wasn’t open for very long. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: And she found a patient named Edith Brennan, and she hands over the file. Back at home, we see Lily and Victoria are constantly humming a lullaby, and they’re always drawing moths on the wallpaper. 


Alison Leiby: Hm. Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And as they do, Lily spies an actual moth, like the kind of the cabin flutters by. 


Alison Leiby: Hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Sort of a calling card for Mother. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, guess who’s here. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see again, like, all these great moments where we, as the audience know what’s going on. But Annabel is in the dark, so she’s walking to put laundry away. And we are watching Lily play tug of war with an entity that is pulling the blanket up directly into the sky, lifting her up, but just, of course, right as Annabel’s about to walk in the girl’s room and Lily is playing with a gh— gh– ghost. Victoria calls her and says, Handsome got outside. He’s crying. So again, she keeps missing these moments of Mama. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Mama moments. 


Halle Kiefer: This miraculous mama moments like every mama has in their life that night. Annabel is, of course, practicing bass. She still has the love of the game. She’s still she’s still a performer—


Alison Leiby: Once a rocker, always a rocker. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. I mean, when you’re 70, you’re going to be doing stand up alone in your kitchen too. 


Alison Leiby: 100%. 


Halle Kiefer: She sees the lights flicker and fade out and we see through the, through the amp, it sounds like feedback that it sounds like maybe a whispering name. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: Maybe it’s her own name. 


Alison Leiby: Hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: When the lights snap back on Lily, who has been crouching like a frog on the kitchen counter leaps and screams and then runs away laughing. She’s having a great time with us. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She tells Luke when he gets home. I don’t know if I could do this. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And Luke is, says, I understand what you’re saying, but I am the hottest man alive. And so instead of arguing over this, let’s start fucking. Of course they get to it. And in the middle of it, Annabel looks up and sees peering the doorway not a child, but a dark, clearly adult height figure. She screams— 


Alison Leiby: Oh God. 


Halle Kiefer: —throws Luke off, being like there’s someone in the fucking house. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Luke searches can’t find anything. Annabel is not hearing this and has grabbed a hammer, which I love. Jessica Chastain with a hammer.


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Worth it 100%. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, I want to watch that. 


Halle Kiefer: Luke takes the hammer from her and heads down the stairs. You know, he’s like, I will check the whole house. Do not freak out. She goes to stay with the girls. Alison as he walks to the top of the stairs, he finds a gigantic spreading spot of black mold growing in the wall [sigh] from which moths have begun to emerge. And he peers into it only for a blackened, greasy arm to shoot out and shove him over the landing, sending him falling to the first floor. And you guessed it, Alison, putting him into a coma. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: At the hospital. Lily, the girls are there are obviously, Lily is, like, taking over shoes and throwing them around, and she’s watching the Slap Chop commercial just saying—


Alison Leiby: Oh, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —chop, chop, chop, chop. So she is learning language. It’s just a different way. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Just infomercial based. 


Halle Kiefer: And Luke is fully in a coma. And luckily, Dr. Dreyfuss is on hand to advise Annabel, who says, I can’t do this. I could barely do it when Luke was not in a coma. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And he puts his hand on her shoulder and says your girls need you. You must be Mama. Alison said, what would you do if you were in that situation? 


[voice over]: What would you do? 


Alison Leiby: This is this is the bad answer for humanity and the wrong one for anyone who has emotions and feelings. But I’m out of there. My g— I am not taking this on like this is not I like. I would be like I can be tangentially involved in these girls lives. I cannot be the sole caretaker of these, like, two children. Like I could. I couldn’t do it. I don’t know what that means for the children, and that’s what’s awful. But like. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, you know what the thing is I’m like, would really be so bad if Jean had the kids. 


Alison Leiby: Right. It’s like it’s not like there’s not another person in the mix. 


Halle Kiefer: And obviously, like, it’s from their interaction, like there’s maybe some hostility. But Jean seems like she would let you see the kids. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And maybe at least while he’s in a coma, like it doesn’t seem or have Jean come stay with them. Like if there’s other family around, they could come and help. That’s seems like the way to go. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. I just know I wouldn’t be able to leave. But also family counseling, counseling all together with the girls would be good. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm yup. 


Halle Kiefer: So that you could learn skills and how to talk to them, you know, in real time. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Especially because they’re going to have to do a lot of communicating about— 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —what’s about to happen in the next act. 


Alison Leiby: I it’s clearly moths are like, what kind of shows up before Mama. Like what would be the thing that shows up for you. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh. 


Alison Leiby: That kind of announces your presence? Could be anything. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, white rats. I want a scourge of white rats to appear before me at all times. Yeah. What about you? 


Alison Leiby: I mean, if we’re going with, like, a physical thing, I think it would be crabs walking around because—


Halle Kiefer: Ooh, yes. 


Alison Leiby: I love seafood. But if if it was—


Halle Kiefer: Delicious. 


Alison Leiby: —authentic to me, it’s probably just the smell of microwave popcorn. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: I was gonna say that. Or like, just a really long hair will show start showing up. 


Alison Leiby: Oh yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Like days before you arrive. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. That would be, you know [laughter] an apartment with no one that has long hair. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Back home. She takes the kids home. The cops come because she’s called them saying we had an intruder. I saw somebody says, well, all the doors and windows were locked, so fuck you, we’re not going to do anything. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, God. 


Halle Kiefer: So she’s on her own with the girls. Of course. That night Annabel awakens and peers down the hall to see Lily just squatting in the darkness and then scurries back to her room. So she’s always squatting and scurrying. Scurrying. And even though she’s a child, it is terrifying. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: To see someone scurry quite so much. 


Alison Leiby: It’s so much scurrying. 


Halle Kiefer: In the morning, Dr. Dreyfuss comes over to check on the girls and he sees there’s they’ve draw a new figure on the wallpaper that is the one that you saw in the trailer, which is a [both speaking] lady bent in half backwards. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: In Victoria’s bed, he finds another rough hewn doll, you know, an apple headed doll made of pinecones and sticks. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: And Annabel says, I don’t know, they made it or something. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, keep tabs on what the children are making. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, girl. There’s only so much laundry you can do. However, we see, Dr. Dreyfuss at his office playing video asking Victoria about a similar doll found in the cabin. He said, did you make this? And she says, Mama made it. Again, he stops the video [sighs] and he looks. And in the moment she says that she looks up to the ceiling as if she’s acknowledging a very tall person, someone who just might be Mother. 


Alison Leiby: Mama. 


Halle Kiefer: The phone rings Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s it’s Louise, the records queen [laughter] from—


Alison Leiby: She’s so involved. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s popping off. She’s a great. This is the kind thing if you’re ever casting a Louise from Clifton Forge Public Records, if you’re listening to this, if you ever make a film, please cast me. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s all I want to be. Is Louise from Clifton Forge Public Records. I even tried to be actually before the economy collapsed. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah [laughter] you did, that was the path. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, my God. I could still, I could still get there. And she says, hey, I’ve found something you’re going to want to see. Again classic horror. I’m not gonna fucking tell you, bitch. You better schlep your ass—


Alison Leiby: Come look. 


Halle Kiefer: —to the fucking public records if you wanna see this. That night the girls are weirdly quiet, even for them. And Annabel prepares them dinner and they turn and we see a figure floating just out of her vision in the living room in the shape of a mother. That night she tucks in Victoria. Then she goes to sort of pull Lily out from under the bed and Lily screams, no. And Annabel throws up her hand and she’s really frustrated. But that’s the first word Lily has spoken this entire time. 


Alison Leiby: Okay—


Halle Kiefer: You love to see it. She’s making progress. 


Alison Leiby: Things are happening. 


Halle Kiefer: Well that’s not true. She was whispering to herself, like, chop chop, when she saw the Slap Chop. But this is the first word she’s vocalized to—


Alison Leiby: She’s, yeah. She’s not just repeating or mimicking something she’s seeing or hearing. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. So she is making progress. That night, Annabel turns in, and when the house is dark, the girl’s closet opens and we see Handsome wining at the closet. And Lily wakes up Victoria and says, Victoria, come, Mama. And Victoria wakes up and puts on her glasses and no, no, takes sorry. Victoria puts keeps her glasses off. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: We hear Annabel, wake up. She could hear through the vent, the girls playing and a woman’s voice humming a lullaby. 


Alison Leiby: Ugh. 


Halle Kiefer: So she’s thinking, someone’s in the fucking house again. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Somebody is coming in the house. She busts in the girl’s room to find them playing, but they all sort of freeze and they. They dart their eyes at the closet. She goes to open the closet, Alison and Victoria says, don’t. And she says, why? What’s inside? And Victoria backs off and says, there’s nothing. She reaches out her hand. Instead of opening it, she just shuts the door, which I get. I understand reaching that moment. In the morning, she goes to the Dr. Dreyfuss, Dr. Dreyfuss comes over, and Annabel tells him, I think somebody is coming in the house. I know we like. If you think someone raised them or was in the cabin, I’m afraid they found them. I heard a woman’s voice through the vents humming, and he plays her video of the girls humming in the lab. And she said, yeah, but they have children’s voices. This was a much like a deeper woman’s voice. And Dr. Dreyfuss says, I believe Victoria has dissociative identity disorder and is literally taking on the role of Mama to deal with the trauma. Trauma Mama. 


Alison Leiby: Mama Trauma. 


Halle Kiefer: Dealing with her Mama trauma. So maybe even her voice is being modulated when she’s in this other identity and Annabel says, am I safe? If, Dr. Dreyfuss has the stones to say from a crazy eight year old? Give me a break. [laughter] Excuse me. That’s not, maybe not—


Alison Leiby: You do not, no. 


Halle Kiefer: Maybe not safe but like, reassure her. Don’t be like give me a break. This is a very stressful situation for everyone involved. Like, come on. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Luckily, Dr. Dreyfuss goes to meet Louise from the records department and she takes us to the records warehouse and she tells them that she found a second entry for mad Edith Brennan. It is a box of human remains Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Okay.


Halle Kiefer: And apparently when Saint Gertrude’s was shut down, like many institutions that I imagine were open in 1878, the patients were not treated very well. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: And they kind of just boxed up some of their remains and put them in public records. And she tells Dreyfuss. 


[clip of Diane Gordon]: I’m not a religious person, but I do believe there’s a place for human remains and it’s not on a shelf in a government building. 


Halle Kiefer: Correct. It looks like she’s going to get a regular sized file box. Alison. She hands him the box and it’s the size of a shoe box. And she says, do you believe in ghosts? When a human body is left out in the elements it withers and becomes distorted and bends out of shape. A ghost is an emotion bent out of shape, condemned to repeat itself until it could right the wrong that was done. Hell yeah. Louise. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Did they teach you that in public record school?


Alison Leiby: Clearly. 


Halle Kiefer: And she and she hands Dreyfuss the box and he says, what’s in this? And she said. 


Alison Leiby: Mm mm. 


Halle Kiefer: The wrong. 


Alison Leiby: The wrong? 


Halle Kiefer: The wrong. 


Alison Leiby: Uh huh. 


Halle Kiefer: Back in the house. Back in the house, which again is dark as fuck. We see that Annabel is cleaning up, Lily is crawling in and out of boxes. And we have this moment where she hears two voices whispering and she turns only for us to see what looks like a drowning woman float down from the ceiling behind her and she whips around. 


Alison Leiby: I hate to say it. 


Halle Kiefer: But it’s gone. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison in his hospital bed. Luke wakes up. 


Alison Leiby: Thank God. Get back in the mix Luke.


Halle Kiefer: Into a nightmare, into a nightmare Alison, you didn’t let me finish. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: He wakes up, he sees a tunnel from his [?] the tunnel near the cabin, and he sees his brother’s corpse walk out from under it. And Jeffrey says, save my girls. Go to the cabin. And just then he starts to seize and the machine in the hospital, Alison. Instead of like a you know, like a line, it just starts to type. Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama. Again, love that shit. The doctors run in, and luckily Luke survives. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. Great.


Halle Kiefer: Annabel and the girls go see him in the morning. Victoria gives him a drawing of a raccoon, and he’s drawn her a picture, a picture of her and Lily, which she’s excited about, and she goes underneath the hospital bed where Lily is to show her the drawing. And we see that Lily, the reason she’s constantly got black shit, all of her mouth. She’s eating the black moths that follow them everywhere. And. 


Alison Leiby: Ugh. 


Halle Kiefer: I know Victoria is is far enough away from her cabin experience to not, to know that that’s not good. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Luke and Annabel, of course, get into a fight and, you know, she’s like, I don’t know if I can do this. She does not tell him about what her sneaking suspicion is. She just thinks someone is coming in or that someone raised them and might be trying to contact them. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s not acknowledged there’s a ghost yet, but she’s getting there. 


Alison Leiby: It’s time. 


Halle Kiefer: And he says they’re going to let me out soon. Please just hold it down. And at home, she finds Victoria sobbing in the bathroom. And when Annabel asks her what’s going on, Victoria tells her, I don’t want you to get hurt. She gets jealous, and then she runs out of the bathroom. The next day. It’s Thursday, which Annabel has completely forgotten, is the day that Jean’s going to stop by and see the kids. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So when she walks in, of course, Lily has moth—


Alison Leiby: Face. 


Halle Kiefer: —gunk all over her fucking face. She’s. She’s crawling on the ground like a fucking animal again. She’s sort like she you know what I mean like she is in her animalistic state. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Jean is horrified to be fair that’s what she looked like. I mean, she’s not been there that long, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Right. It’s not like years have passed and there has been a rigorous—


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: —kind of plan to re acclimate her to our culture like that’s. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And she she’s like, oh, my God, I can’t believe this. And Annabel said, look, she she is she’s making progress. And Jean says, you know, why do you let the girls? Why don’t you let me have the girls for a few days? You go have a drink with your friends or play in that band of yours. 


Alison Leiby: So judgey. [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: Oh, mother, in a band? Annabel says, go fuck yourself, get the fuck out of my house. And as soon as she leaves, Jean calls child services. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And says, like, what? What do I need? What kind of evidence do I need to show them if my nieces are being abused. Annabel calls Luke to tell her what happened. He’s horrified. He’s like, it’s just one day a month. You couldn’t fucking remember that she was coming. She’s like, I’ve I’m barely holding it together, man. You’re in a coma, you know, like. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: This isn’t my fucking job. This is your job. Again, she’s rejecting the role of mother. This is your job. You have to get here. And he says they’re letting me out tomorrow. Hold it the fuck down and we’ll figure out something to do with Jean. We see again, Dreyfuss hypnotizing Victoria. And he says, where did Mamma live? Victoria said in the walls. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: He says. Where is she now? Does she live in the house? Is she here with us in your new house? And he holds up a photo. We know it’s of Edith Brennan, and he says, Is this her? Look at this. And Victoria screams, no. Alison, Dreyfuss turns and on the wall is the black mold sort of growing rapidly over him. This bitch.


Alison Leiby: Even non haunted black mold is an absolute crisis, you know what I mean? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And then to have the haunted mold. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh absolutely. This bitch. So he’s in Annabel and Luke’s house doing this therapy session. He runs out without telling Annabel what he saw. That’s the fucking kiss of death. When you see a character at this stage, at this point in the movie, have that level of cowardice. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: He dead. 


Alison Leiby: You got to tell everybody what’s going on. 


Halle Kiefer: But he’s more obsessed with the idea that, you know, he’s going to prove he is now believes that there is a supernatural element and he has to prove it. And he’s really excited about what this means for his career. So extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. He’s going to the fucking cabin. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, Annabel dreams of Mama, but really, she dreams as Mama. And we see from Mama’s P.O.V. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: In Saint Gertrude’s. And it’s done in this, like, very, like, stylized, jittery, like her arms are incredibly long and muscular. Like this. Like horrifying, monstrous mother. 


Alison Leiby: Uh huh. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see her run up to one of the nuns and take a knitting needle and stab it into the nuns chest and grab her baby out of the nuns hands. And—


Alison Leiby: Her baby, like her actual baby?


Halle Kiefer: Her actual baby. And she sprints out of out of the the Saint Gertrude’s, running and runs to the edge of a cliff. She’s being pursued by, of course, priests and a bunch of other men. [laughter]


Alison Leiby: Oh, thank God. 


Halle Kiefer: And she looks down at her baby and she puts her hand over its eyes and we see the black mold covering its face. And she leaps off the cliff. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: She slams into a tree on the way down, and her broken body falls into the water. Annabel wakes up. 


Alison Leiby: Hence the drowning. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And finds Victoria standing over her. And from the other side of the bed, we see Mama crawl out. 


Alison Leiby: Oh Mama, Mama’s home. 


Halle Kiefer: Mama. Mama’s here. Mama has, like, sort of glimmering dead fish eyes, like silver eyes. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, good. 


Halle Kiefer: Her body again. A wizened bog mummy body.


Alison Leiby: Yes, bog mummy, wizened black. Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: And hair that moves as if it’s underwater the entire time. Annabel—


Alison Leiby: I like that and wish I could have it. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: It’s cool as fuck that 100%. If we had, we probably will the technology at some point, but—


Alison Leiby: I bet. 


Halle Kiefer: Annabel wakes up again. It was just a dream. It was just a dream.


Alison Leiby: Wow. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re, well you’re still being haunted by a ghost but that part was was not real. In the girl’s room, Lily wakes up and tells Victoria like, come, Mama. But for the first time, Victoria says, no, I’m. I’m going to stay. And Lily, who again is six, wanders out of the house. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, we see Dr. Dreyfuss arrive at the cabin at night like a fucking idiot. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, of all the times to go to this cabin. 


Halle Kiefer: And he hears Mama, like, moaning and sobbing and the sound effects are incredible. Just because she does skew a little dinosaur. It goes a little raptor. 


Alison Leiby: Ooh. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s like clicking and—


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —whistling. And of course, he finds a matching mold spot in the wall. So I think the idea is like. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: This is a pathway between these two sites. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: That she is able to—


Alison Leiby: Travel, between. 


Halle Kiefer: Travel between. Yeah. And because he’s a fucking idiot as previously discussed, Dr. Dreyfuss doesn’t have a flashlight, so he has to use his camera flash to illuminate the living room. 


Alison Leiby: Oh my God. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see Mama emerge from a doorframe and snap his fucking neck. 


Alison Leiby: As Mama’s do. 


Halle Kiefer: Don’t try to play with Mama. Exactly. That’s that Mama energy. 


Alison Leiby: That’s a Mama move. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Wasn’t it? Oh, yeah. Was it Sarah Palin? What’s the difference between a mother and a pit bull? Lipstick. I don’t remember. 


Alison Leiby: What? [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: Wasn’t it, I remember her saying something like that. 


Alison Leiby: It was. Yeah, it’s something like that. 


Halle Kiefer: You don’t put lipstick on a pit bull? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I don’t know.


Halle Kiefer: In the morning, Annabel finds Lily outside. She’s just shivering in the yard and for the first time, just physically grabs her and scoops her up, up and takes inside, which Lily hates. And she’s sort of screaming and struggling. But eventually Annabel holds her hands and starts, like, breathing on her hands to warm up. And Lily looks at her, like, for the first time and then blows on her own hands. And they have this really wonderful moment because Annabel has the one thing Mama doesn’t have, a warm living human body. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, no. 


Halle Kiefer: So it’s like oh, right. Oh, this mother is warm and not dead and wet and—


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —disgusting. 


Alison Leiby: Soggy. And—


Halle Kiefer: Well, maybe I like this Mama a little better. You know?


Alison Leiby: I don’t need a waterlogged mama. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, Victoria watches as, and Victoria knows Mama is not going to be happy about this. Also, the child actors in this are phenomenal. They’re genuinely, really good. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, just like the snippets in the trailer, I’m like, how do you get kids to be this good? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: At acting. 


Halle Kiefer: And Annabel starts to have like little moments of connection with them. Like she kneels at the window and says, okay, we want to go outside. What do we do? And they both say, use the stairs. So she says, all right, we’re doing it. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And they’re sort of like making breakfast. Victoria makes burnt spaghetti, and there’s a moment where there’s a shape moving behind an armchair. Annabel says, oh, my God, Lily, you scared me. Lily is downstairs. And in that moment, Annabel realizes that and turns to see the closet door, the girl’s closet door shut. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm, mm hmm. Somebody has been coming and going. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. When she opens it, of course, there’s another big, wet, rotting mold spot that, of course, a ghost can pass through. And Annabel sits down with Victoria and finally just asked her, like, you know, Dr. Dreyfuss told me about Mama. And I’m I’m is Mama here? Is Mama a ghost? And Victoria is not giving her anything, you know, sort of doesn’t want to make Mama more upset. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: Annabel tries to call Dreyfuss but of course he can’t talk right now. He’s dead. Luckily, he did leave a file because he left so quickly. He left a file on their coffee table and he ran out. And in the file is a photo of Edith Brennan. Annabel starts going through the file. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: She ends up taking the girls to Dr. Dreyfuss’s office only to find his secretary, breaking down into tears and running out of the room, having just heard about his death. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And in that moment, Annabel takes the opportunity to steal the girl’s files. 


Alison Leiby: Honestly, smart. 


Halle Kiefer: From Dreyfuss’s. Absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: What else would you do? 


Halle Kiefer: In the hospital. Luke also has his own files, which I’m assuming Annabel brought him and is going and sees the picture of the tunnel and he is going to head to the cabin. I was like, without telling Annabel. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Dumb dumb dumb. 


Alison Leiby: Very dumb. 


Halle Kiefer: We know to never do this. If you have a supernatural suspicion, tell a friend or a loved one of it. 


Alison Leiby: Tell a friend. 


Halle Kiefer: If you have any thought, tell a friend or a loved one. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: In the files, Annabel finds the recording of Victoria’s hypnosis sessions. And here’s the story of Edith Brennan and starts to put things together. Because also in Dreyfuss’s file is, you guessed it, the shoe box from the public records office. And in the one of the recordings, Victoria says Mama fell in the water, but her baby didn’t. And she doesn’t know where it is. And we see in an old photo the baby was caught on the tree, so Mama’s body smashes into the tree—


Alison Leiby: Kept going. 


Halle Kiefer: —falls into the water dies, kept going. The baby was caught on the tree. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Died but was caught in the tree. And Annabel starts to put together. Maybe this is about what’s in the shoe box. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I would think. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. In the recording, Victoria tells Dreyfuss, Mama went looking in the woods for a baby and she found us. And we see Annabel’s crying and she’s interrupted by Victoria and Lily. And Victoria is like so moved by Annabel crying that she hugs Annabel and Lily just shakes her head. You fucked up. Meanwhile, at this exact moment. 


Alison Leiby: Oh boy. Oh boy. 


Halle Kiefer: Aunt Jean rolls up outside to look for proof of child abuse as if Annabel didn’t have enough problems. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Suddenly Jean is there. 


Alison Leiby: It’s like now this bitch is here? Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. In the night, Victoria finds Lily standing in the living room, staring at Mama, and she says, don’t look at her. She’s mad. And Mama lunges at them, chasing them up the stairs. Lily runs to the room first and slams the door in Victoria’s face. And Victoria sort of braces as she hears footsteps. But it’s just Annabel. Okay. Unfortunately, they suddenly hear Lily screaming, and they both run in. And for the first time, Annabel just sees Mama. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: And she is, she looks like a brown recluse spider. Like she’s a human woman, but she’s sort of spread out. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I get okay. 


Halle Kiefer: On the ceiling. And sort of clambers down and across the floor before—. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t like it. 


Halle Kiefer: —going to her full height. Mama chases them, Annabel falls. Of course, you’ve got to be falling. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, falling all over the place. 


Halle Kiefer: In a horror. And Mama looms over her. Victoria screams, Mama, you promised. And Mama crawls over to Victoria and takes off her glasses. I guess the symbol of her civilization. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: The symbol of her former life. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And snaps them in half. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, Mama. 


Halle Kiefer: But luckily, just what Mama is about to do, something even worse. Aunt Jean enters the house and she looks down and again, this is a movie about wigs. She looks what looks like a wig sliding across the wooden floor. And then Mama stands up under it. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: To look down and see a wig of its own volition sliding towards you. 


Alison Leiby: That on it’s own is terrifying.


Halle Kiefer: And then a ghost mother, rise up underneath. Victoria comes downstairs and she sees Jean standing in the kitchen, jerking, clicking, gasping. And she says, Aunt Jean? And Jean whips around and now has Mama’s distorted grey corpse face. And when she opens her mom’s mouth, moths fly out. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison My understanding is this means that Mama has taken over Aunt Jean’s house, which or body, body, and what is the body, if not a house for the soul. 


Alison Leiby: A little house for your soul. 


Halle Kiefer: Mama now has a body, so I think she could drive a car. So I think this is why she’s able to do what happens next. When Annabel wakes up, because when she fell, she was knocked unconscious. The girls are gone. 


Alison Leiby: Aye. 


Halle Kiefer: Of course, there’s only one place Mama could have taken them to Olive Garden. 


Alison Leiby: Cabin? Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: No. She doesn’t know about Olive Garden. 


Alison Leiby: I’m like, no? [laughs] 


Halle Kiefer: And if she had known, she would know that when you’re here, you’re family and families look like a lot of different stuff. Sometimes it looks like a couple, their two nieces and a ghost. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: If only they’d been able to work things out. 


Alison Leiby: If only. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, Annabel’s no dummy, even after all this time. So she grabs the shoe box full of, from the public records. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And heads to the cabin. Alison, please tell me who’s going to survive this movie? 


[voice over]: Who will survive? 


Alison Leiby: I mean, I’m going to believe that both children will survive. I think Jean is kind of already gone. And I think that Jessica Chastain, Annabel, that’s her name? 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Will die. But the. But. Luke. Luke will live. Lucas? Luke? Husband.


Halle Kiefer: Okay great. She’ll have sacrificed, as all women must. And all woman should sacrifice herself. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: For her child? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: All right, great. Fortunately, she also calls Annabel also calls Luke, and he meets her. So thank God they’re at least able to coordinate. They run down. They realize the cabin is just on the other side of the lake from the cliff where Mama leapt from in her life. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And they run down. They run down, through the cabin to the lake. And Jean is staying there. And Jean is a hollow husk. It looks like Mama—


Alison Leiby: Well yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —like just wore her skin and hollowed out. She kind of crumbles backward. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. 


Halle Kiefer: Much like we saw Mama do. Much like we saw Mama do. They ran. They run up the cliff and they run there just as Lily is running to Mama who is floating over the edge of the cliff. So if Lily were to go to her, she would also plummet over the cliff. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And right before she reaches the edge, Luke tackles her and she screams and she fights him. But he’s able to pull her back from the edge. Mama attacks them. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Roaring, but Annabel opens the box and offers are the bundle inside the skeleton of her dead baby. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Had to assume. 


Halle Kiefer: And Mama takes it. And for a moment, we see her face become a human woman’s face. And she’s sobbing and screaming. And it looks like she’s going to accept the dead baby, accept that they are finally together and grieve. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But then Lily calls to her and Mama realizes, oh, yeah, there’s some actual fucking human kids. I could have. 


Alison Leiby: I could have these kids, right.


Halle Kiefer: And she literally throws the baby’s bones over her shoulder. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: I was like, oh, shit. Like, you don’t want to see a ghost do that. You know?


Alison Leiby: No, no you do not. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison. She rams her fist into Luke’s chest and stops his heart and he collapses. 


Alison Leiby: Is that what Mamas can do? 


Halle Kiefer: I think Mamas can do anything—


Alison Leiby: Anything they want. 


Halle Kiefer: —they put their hearts to. That’s how strong a Mama’s love is. She attacks Annabel and drags her up into the sky before dropping her. So now she’s injured. And again, Annabel, the human mother. The new mother is defeated. And Mama take, is about to take Lily and Annabel over the edge of the cliff. But then Victoria stops. And we see that, you know, she’s wounded. But Annabel is clutching the edge of Victoria’s robe. And Victoria turns to Mama and asks her to let her go. 


Alison Leiby: To let Victoria wants be let go—


Halle Kiefer: Victoria go. 


Alison Leiby: —by Mother. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And so she allows it. But not Lily. 


Alison Leiby: No, Lily is hers. 


Halle Kiefer: Lily is caught in the sauce. Lily is like Lily is happy to be with Mama. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And as Victoria and Annabel plead for her not to. Mama takes Lily and envelops her in her shroud, which sort of plummets like swirls around them like a cocoon. And then they plummet towards the water. 


Alison Leiby: Hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And inside the shroud, we see Lily smiling at Mama with her mother forever. And when they hit the same tree that Mama smashed into, they burst into thousands of black moths and fly away. 


Alison Leiby: Ah. Ugh. I don’t like it. 


Halle Kiefer: Luke luckily survived, having been having his heart stopped and being in a coma. 


Alison Leiby: He’s had a rough. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. 


Alison Leiby: Couple weeks. 


Halle Kiefer: And he runs to them and he runs. And the three of them sob on the cliff, and one of the moths lands on Victoria shoulders and we see it’s a beautiful purple and black butterfly. And she says, Lily? The Mama. 


Alison Leiby: Mama. Wow. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s the Mama. Yeah. So I again, I have been thinking about how to use horror to talk about different difficult topics because we just. We just all have to be doing that right now. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I think, and forever. And of course, unfortunately, when it comes to motherhood, the the unfortunate topic that is at the top of my mind watch this is abortion. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And sort of forced motherhood. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: The idea of being made to be a mother. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And I’m not going to describe in detail, but I saw something this week. We’re recording on Friday, April 21st. I saw something that I do think everyone should watch. I don’t know if you watched this, Alison. It is an interview with a woman and about her experience having a losing a wanted pregnancy. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And then going to request an abortion and knowing that the child would not survive. Right. And being denied not only denied it, but refused any information— 


Alison Leiby: And yeah. And any care. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So this is, of course, a woman in Florida. Her name is Anya Cook. There was a at the time it was the 15 week abortion ban. I found a Jezebel article. This is published on April 10th. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, they’re down to six or or total. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: I forget. What—


Halle Kiefer:  It’s six. 


Alison Leiby: It’s six? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah it’s six as of right now, yeah DeSantis signed six. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, six is total. But. [both speaking]


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. Exactly. For anybody like Florida woman denied abortion, miscarried in her hair salon bathroom, lost half her blood. She had to go home and basically wait until she almost died. They said, like. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: You may probably become septic. She had to essentially deliver her dead fetus. 


Alison Leiby: Death of a child. 


Halle Kiefer: In a hair salon, when she was trying to live her life and then started hemorrhaging, barely survived. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And this is a black woman again, like we alluded to earlier this, you know, like mortality, maternal mortality in this country for black women is horrific. 


Alison Leiby: Horrific. 


Halle Kiefer: And we are, of course, making it worse. And Florida, it is unconscionable. And I you know, I, I understand that like we have a podcast that is about that is fun and funny and I love horror, but we horror is also like how we talk about like the reality of all this. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And the thing that really struck a chord with me watching this movie, which is like it’s a B horror movie with Jessica Chastain—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —in a terrible wig, but there is a level of rage to. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: The conversation about motherhood. This woman did an interview where she talks about her experience. She’s enraged and she should be.


Alison Leiby: She absolutely should be. 


Halle Kiefer: And I think there is this idea that we’re sort of like the good mother versus a woman who would have an abortion. That is a that is a piece of propaganda. That is a fucking fiction. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, that is a false idea. It is not real. 


Halle Kiefer: And we can only again, like we’re locked in to talking about these like these with these very strict stereotypes. Right. About what a mother is. This was a wanted pregnancy. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: This woman was put through hell. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Almost died for no reason. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Other than the religious right could be smug. 


Alison Leiby: Making rules yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And pat themselves on the back and say they did a good job. I think we are obligated to hear those stories and obligated going to watch them. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Because otherwise they are able to paint it like, oh, it’s not that big a deal. We know it’s a big fucking deal. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, it’s a huge deal. 


Halle Kiefer: We know these kind of things shouldn’t be happening. 


Alison Leiby: And this is not an isolated event. And there are stories. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Just like this woman’s coming out of basically every state that has an incredibly restrictive abortion ban. It is so shockingly common at this point that I believe it’s not even part of the conversation in the way that it was like at the first passing of Dobbs. It’s awful. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And that’s, you know. Even having to carry on almost dying for an unviable pregnancy is like as much. I mean, that’s forced birth. That’s forced trauma. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: That that is that is you know, that woman is of course not, you know. In the same terrible way that like some people, when they end up pregnant and then have a forced birth or then like saddled with parenthood that they did not ask for, but also to be saddled with that kind of trauma when you are already losing something is just. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: It is absolutely inhumane. 


Halle Kiefer: And it is just punishing, you know, women, trans men and non-binary people. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It is just punishing their bodies. It is forcing them into a state of body horror for truly I like to to have to have something so vulnerable forced upon you and then to have any help to put medical professionals in a situation where they cannot help you. 


Alison Leiby: They can’t help you. 


Halle Kiefer: Legally. And I’ll just say this, and I’m not a doctor and I’ve never been in this situation, but I really do hope there are doctors who are not obeying these laws. I do hope that there are people who are receiving care, even if it is illegal. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I again, I think that people are going to have to commit, when the law is unjust, people are going to have to become criminals. 


Alison Leiby: Have to commit crimes. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s just, you know, and again, that’s easy for us to say. I live in California. You live in New York. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Again, I don’t want to say it will never happen here because unfortunately, we live in America, we can’t possibly know the future. 


Alison Leiby: Can’t say that. 


Halle Kiefer: And, you know, we see the Mifepristone. You know, which the Supreme Court keeps kicking down. Actually, that was, oh that’s tonight. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So, again, it’s Friday. They keep kicking the Mifepristone question. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Because they don’t want to fucking deal with it either. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: When it should just already be dealt with. [both speaking] All this was dealt with, and now we’re dealing with it again and—


Alison Leiby: It was already dealt with. It was already. And it wasn’t even accessible to everybody. It’s not like under Roe. We had pure. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Access in the way that we absolutely should for all people who need it and something to do. I know everybody’s like, well, what the fuck do you do about this? I know some people want to be vigilantes and driving people around and be like, the best thing you can do is donate to the places that already do that. Abortion funds are specifically there to help with trans— Transportation, lodging, accompaniment, food and safety, while people have to cross state lines just for access to health care. So like, please, like your local abortion funds, the abortion funds in states where there are restrictive laws are like the number one financial thing to do in this moment. So that’s a helpful thing. The Lilith Fund and the Brigid Alliance are two really fabulous ones. 


Halle Kiefer: And obviously we’re going to be talking about this because unfortunately this is the nature of how we live. It is horrifying. This is horror that’s being put on us for no reason, we’ve talked about. And again, we talk about a million times. All of this is tied to this larger fight for bodily autonomy. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Trans rights, the state of America’s prisons. 


Alison Leiby: Yep. 


Halle Kiefer: And the policing system, like all of this, is the same thing where it’s like, this doesn’t have to happen like this. And in order to move past it, I do think we have to have these conversations where it is like people do have to watch this. You should have to watch this woman talk about. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: The worst fucking thing you could possibly imagine happening to her. That’s her life. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s like that is her life that she had to live through. 


Alison Leiby: And it happened exclusively because of these laws. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, exactly. And yeah, her name is Anya Cook. She did an interview with MSNBC. You could Google it, but yeah, that was it. I don’t know. I just to watch this, I’m like, we don’t talk about women’s rage. And I think this is a time where. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Rage, positive, optimistic, rage on our part and completely reasonable rage for anyone who has to deal with this in your state is needed. It’s healthy to be enraged. Anyways what do you think are some fatal mistakes, people may have made in Mama? 


[voice over]: Fatal mistakes. 


Alison Leiby: No. We say this at almost every movie. Like no one’s communicating enough what they’re up to. Like, people being like, I’m just going to go investigate this. I’m going to go do this by myself. I feel like there were several instances of that, specifically from the men in this movie. I think also. Not enlisting help when tasked with taking these children and becoming a mama herself like Annabel, like get Jean in the mix get like other people. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Like ask for help and help should be available. 


Halle Kiefer: Mine is Dreyfuss don’t fucking go to the cabin alone. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: That was his hubris, his scientific hubris. He wanted to have this, like, reveal that you could have a ghost mama. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: He wanted to claim for himself. And he walked into a trap. And again. Hubris, overweening pride. Always a downfall in all these movies. 


Alison Leiby: Always. 


Halle Kiefer: And then where would you put Mama on the spooky scale, Alison? 


[voice over]: [music plays] A spooky scale. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, the female rage and forced motherhood of it all. Of course. Very scary, especially in light of kind of the political climate in this country right now. Also, ghost Mama sounds fucking scary. I’m going to give it a six and a half. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it’s. There are a lot of really excellent moments. I really once you see Mama in full, you kind of your brain’s like, oh, I get it. It’s Mama. 


Alison Leiby: Okay yeah it’s that.


Halle Kiefer: But there’s so many. I saw like the first half of the movie is full of so many excellent, subtle. And when, boy, when you see those kids crawling around. 


Alison Leiby: Mm mm mm mm mm mm. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m going to give this a five. 


Alison Leiby: All right. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s more like heart warming at the end. Like, I feel like you get to enjoy a woman’s journey, you know, with motherhood, coming to terms with it, coming to terms with the ghost that mother haunts her. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Um, I’m going to go with five. I’m going to go to five. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I think that’s fair. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for listening, everyone. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And we’re excited for mommy issues. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, we got a whole month of mamas, mommy’s and mother.  


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, we all got them. So. I don’t know. 


Alison Leiby: That’s it. 


Halle Kiefer: We’ll see you next week. 


Alison Leiby: I guess all we got to ask is that you would keep it spooky please. 


Halle Kiefer: We love you. 


Alison Leiby: Mama. 


Halle Kiefer: Ruined is a Radio Point and Crooked Media production. We’re your writers and hosts Halle Kiefe and Alison Leiby. The show is executive produced by Alex Bach, Sabrina Fonfeder and Houston Snyder, and recorded and edited by Kat Iossa. From Crooked Media our executive producer is Kendra James with production and promotional support from Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin, Julia Beach, Caroline Dunphy and Ewa Okulate. Follow @ruinedpodcast on Instagram and Twitter for show updates and @theradiopoint and @crookedmedia for more original content. [music plays]