It may have taken its name from an old BBC children’s series, but Watch With Mother, a new app-based horror comedy series, is anything but innocent. Even the family dog is homicidal in Mother’s world, the warped brainchild of The Glue Society, an Australian directorial and art collective.
The six-part series is currently available on Google Play and on iTunes and the creators hope to get it into the Apple App Store and on other platforms soon. The app, which includes Mother’s 22-minute episodes, can be watched sequentially like a traditional linear TV series or on shuffle, with behind-the-scenes and background elements highlighting the show’s bizarre universe that includes a closet-dwelling monster named Barry, a composer whose instrument of choice is the human body in peril, and that very, very bad dog.
According to The Glue Society’s Jonathan Kneebone, the idea for Mother actually predates the tablet as a platform, but as the iPad and Android devices came to the fore, it was clear the show would be a natural fit for the app format. "We kind of realized this wasn’t going to be a conventional product," Kneebone told Co.Create via Skype from Sydney. "When we started to show this around to the networks, we realized it would be better for online. What we realized was this particular idea would lend itself to not watching on TV, that it was a show that could be easily enjoyed when you’re traveling because it’s bite-sized… We got a bit lucky that the content and mechanism went together."
Packaging Mother as an app may also help The Glue Society reach a vastly wider audience than in its native Australia. "It’s now become possible to launch a show globally," Kneebone continued. Depending on the success of the first series, the producers hope to either crowdfund another or seek partnerships with more established distributors like Netflix or Sony to get the show in front of more viewers. "We wanted to put our money where our mouth is when it came to launching," says Kneebone. "The way that movie productions these days are going, [studios] go for surefire hits or a sequel. This is potentially a way for some people to find out if there’s an audience."
With a cast of 84 and a budget of $500,000, Mother’s first season was shot by seven directors over 10 days near Sydney with a crew that included cinematographer Russell Boyd, who won an Oscar for Master and Commander in 2003. The series has the retro look of a '70s horror flick, with seemingly banal settings like a suburban cul-de-sac or a small-town hardware store made sinister by ominous shadows, surprise cuts, and gushing, Fangoria-worthy gore. Sensitive viewers should be prepared for torture, car crashes, immolated birds, blood and assorted viscera, as well as a series of graphic impalings by pipes, beach umbrellas, and in one memorable instance, a chair leg. In other words, exactly the sort of thing you wouldn’t want to watch with your mother.
As for the title, Kneebone says it’s meant to evoke the squeamish feeling of sitting with your mom watching something you know you shouldn’t share with her: "It has this slightly nostalgic innocence about it. Sitting and watching with your mother is something that you do when you’re a kid, but there’s a time when it becomes inappropriate or strange. We like that."