Sure, there are a few decent moments. A demon screaming into a phone until his jaw is impossibly extended is a creepy image, Sara descending a staircase into "Hell" is atmospheric and Argento delivers one good jolt with the old "did I really wake up or am I still dreaming" gag. But these scattered effective moments are crushed underneath a movie that looks like it was shot by a fanboy trying to make a movie like Dario Argento.
Asia Argento, who is a decent actress, is embarrassingly bad here. Her performance is so wooden and monotone she looks like just showing up to the set everyday was enough of a chore. Most other performances are lousy as well. The dependable Udo Kier fares the best in the role of a priest who shows up just long enough to spout out a few convoluted lines of dialog which connect this movie to SUSPIRIA and INFERNO before being hacked to death.
And that brings up the already infamous gore. MOTHER OF TEARS is likely to forever have a place in horror history as "one of the goriest movies ever made," but that honor is obligatory at best. Yeah, there are several outlandishly gruesome set-pieces, but they are all taken to such an extreme that they become ridiculous rather than horrifying. A woman being disemboweled and then choked with her own intestines is unintentionally funny, more like Peter Jackson's work in DEAD ALIVE than the surreal horror of SUSPIRIA. The scene is also not helped by the fact that the "intestines" look more like industrial extension cords than actual innards (even more so in an equally absurd moment in which a woman's intestines are being sucked out through her anus).
A monkey which serves as a familiar to the Mother is sort of creepy at first, but when it kept showing up and screeching it started to grate on my nerves. Even more irritating is Sara's mother's ghost, who repeatedly materializes to give her advice, even after telling her it's the last time she'll be doing so. The special effect used to place her in front of Sara is so bad it was hard not to chuckle every time. Unfortunately the unintentional humor that may have made these scenes amusing is killed by the excruciating banality of their dialog.
Worst of all, however, is the Mother herself. Turns out the "Queen of All Evil" is a runway model with fake boobs. She's about as scary as Paris Hilton. Maybe this is why the only witches who show up to honor her are the ones who wear ten pounds of make-up and have no fashion sense. For a secret society these ladies sure haven't nailed down the art of inconspicuousness. Argento apparently thinks all witches dress like Madonna circa 1985. And I expected it to take just slightly more to vanquish the Mother than to simply throw her T-shirt on the fire.
If this was just a random movie, with no connection to two of the most unique and surreal horror movies ever made, then MOTHER OF TEARS might be fun in a PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE sort of way. As the final entry in an intended trilogy, however, this movie is inexcusably awful.