Though director Lamont Johnson’s “You’ll Like My Mother” is generally well received, I found it to be a mostly flat thriller with a lot of the attempted suspense lost in translation. “You’ll Like My Mother” is a mix of “Misery” and “Flowers in the Attic,” in where a young woman tries to reconcile with her dead husband’s family and gets much more than she bargained for. The late Patty Duke plays Fran, a very pregnant young woman who ventures in to Minnesota in the dead of winter to visit her husband’s family and perhaps make peace with them.
Fran is a little more than surprised to learn her husband’s mother absolutely resents Fran for marrying her son and refuses to acknowledge he committed the ceremony. Soon enough though, Fran finds herself stuck in the mansion as snow has trapped her inside the old mysterious house with the odd relatives. What’s worse is that Fran begins to suspect they’re making no attempt to get her back home, and might actually be intent on keeping her there against her will. Soon enough, Fran begins scheming to escape with her life, and learns a lot the unusual relatives, all while battling with her mother in law.
Events spiral out of control as her the matriarch of the mansion becomes more aggressive with Fran, drugging her and imprisoning her, while Fran becomes more and more desperate to escape. The tension ratchets up considerably as the narrative unfolds, and surprising enough, once the twists are introduced, “You’ll Like My Mother” becomes significantly less entertaining. Johnson’s thriller is such a dour and miserable thriller that even tense moments, like one involving Fran desperately trying to escape her room with the help of the mentally disabled Kathleen and a large selection of unmarked keys, are so tedious.
Despite my problems with the overall film, “You’ll Like My Mother” garners some strong performances, particularly from Patty Duke, and Sian Barbara Ann. “You’ll Like My Mother” has a lot of potential for tension, and teeth gnashing mystery, but in the end, it’s a tame and pretty dull mystery with a clumsy climax. Among the special features, there’s the hour long “The Mystery of Kenny and Kathleen” where Patty Duke and Richard Thomas engage in interviews about the film and their separate work in film and television. There’s also a photo gallery and the original trailer for the film.