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Home > Themes of Motherhood in Netflix’s Incantation

Themes of Motherhood in Netflix’s Incantation


What Would You Do To Protect Your Child?

Kevin Ko’s Netflix horror film Incantation features Ronan, a woman cursed six years ago by Mother Buddha, an evil deity she and her ghost-busting team came across while filming. Due to the curse’s power, which gains power from Ronan’s fear of it, people around Ronan continue to suffer. As a result, when Ronan gave birth to her daughter a few months after the curse took effect, Ronan placed her child in a foster home. Ko’s film begins when Ronan believes she can keep her fear under control and safely take care of her daughter, Dodo. But when skeletal, gray arms sprout from the ceiling, it’s clear that Ronan and her daughter are anything but safe. Incantation follows Ronan as she attempts to protect her daughter from the evil forces she unearthed many years ago, and therein, director Kevin Ko explores his themes of motherhood in Incantation.

Is Ronan in Incantation a Good Mother?

Throughout the film, Ronan proves that she is a good mother. The reason she placed Dodo in a foster home was for Dodo’s safety and her inability to care for her at the time of her birth. Ronan shows that she loves her daughter. The joyful moments that Ronan and Dodo share toward the beginning highlight the happy life Ronan and Dodo could have had. Ronan plays with Dodo and her stuffed animals, helps her daughter stave off fear, and makes her laugh. 

Ronan also puts Dodo before anyone else in the world, which we see at several points in the film, but especially in the end when Ronan asks the audience to help bless Dodo by repeating the incantation with her. If you’ve seen Incantation, you’ll understand how this moment is the pinnacle of Ronan’s prioritizing Dodo. But outside of that, Ronan distances herself from Dodo when she knows it’s best for Dodo, even when she doesn’t want to. Ronan constantly puts her daughter before herself, running into terrifying circumstances that could get her killed (or worse), all to save Dodo. Thus, Ronan shows, in an extreme way, how being a good mother requires self-sacrifice and putting one’s child first.


One of Ronan’s only flaws as a mother is that she continues to fear what is coming for her and her daughter, which exacerbates the curse’s effects and makes things worse for the both of them. Ko seems to include this part of the curse to show how, when raising a child, one must not let fear dictate their actions–it will only poorly impact the child.

Comparing Mother Buddha to Ronan in Ko’s Incantation

Mother Buddha is the evil deity that torments Ronan and Dodo. However, the more we learn about her, the easier it is to compare her to Ronan. Ronan and Mother Buddha are the only mothers in the film, and both cause their “children” harm by spreading a curse unto them. Mother Buddha does it knowingly with malicious intent, but Ronan gives Dodo away for the first six years of her life to protect her, showing her love for Dodo, and only takes her back again when she’s confident that she’s overcome the curse. Ronan’s motherly instincts are not to give her daughter up again but rather to fight for her (even though Ronan causes her harm through her fear). However, letting Dodo go a second time would not have helped anything. On the first night that Dodo is home, a cockroach crashes through their window, breaking the glass. Ronan then sees the shape of a cockroach in one of the veins in Dodo’s eye, implying that the curse has already attached itself to Dodo’s soul. 

It’s also important to note that the foster home takes Dodo away from Ronan partway through the film, but not because Ronan is evil. There are terrible women and mothers who Mother Buddha highlights by causing her victims to self-destruct by bashing their heads in on tables. The foster home takes Dodo from Ronan because life for her is difficult and doesn’t make sense to them. Ronan has bad circumstances but still wants to fight for her daughter and wants her daughter to be healthy and happy. She has good intentions and not all of the proper resources. But she still wants to do what is best for Dodo, which separates her from Mother Buddha. Therefore, in motherhood, intentions matter.

Interested in watching or rewatching Kevin Ko’s Incantation? Check it out on Netflix!


Incantation (2023) Official Netflix Trailer 

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Syd Sukalski attends Sarah Lawrence College and studies television writing and production and fiction writing. Syd aspires to write novels that she will adapt into a television series. She recently finished a draft of her first novel and is hard at work on her second.