What Is The Significance Of ‘Mandrake’ In The Movie? What Was Mary’s Intention With It? Did She Succeed?

Writer Matt Harvey and director Lynne Davison’s “Mandrake” is a story about witchcraft that explores a similar theme and revolves around a mother’s desire to become fertile and give birth to a child. The mother’s obsession compels her to devote herself to witchcraft, which leads to one killing after another. The story explores how the mother recognizes the moral path and abandons evil before it is too late. There is also a mention of the “Wandering Man.” Who was he? What led to the fear of the residents of that place? Let’s take it one step at a time.


Spoilers Ahead

Mandrake: A Myth That Was Followed By Death

Mandrake, or Mandragora, is a plant that looks like a baby human. Once, it was believed that Mandrake had medicinal value and was used to cure headaches, earaches, and other ailments in the body. Some believe that it is also helpful in fertilization. One just needed to uproot it from the soil and drink the sap. Mandrakes are said to be extremely poisonous in some places, whether the leaves or the trees themselves. In the film, it is basically used for fertilization, but it is not easy to achieve. The process of picking a Mandrake plant out of the soil is more tricky than one can imagine. Folklore and “Harry Potter” have portrayed the Mandrake plants as vicious flora that, when picked from the soil, scream their hearts out. This loud scream can even kill the person who pulls it out. The particular angle describes the first scene of the movie, where we see Shawn Duggan, the lover of Mary, die right after he tries to pull the Mandrake plant out of the soil. But who dragged him, and why?


Mary’s Belief: Was She Able To Lift A Mandrake Plant? Did Her Plan Work?

Mary was a heinous criminal who was having an affair with Shawn Duggan, a young boy. We can assume that it was Mary who had seduced Duggan into grabbing one of those Mandrake plants out of the soil. However, just like a normal person, Duggan too might have protested and thought of Mary as some witch or an insane woman. But Mary could not afford to let Duggan go, so she kept him in chains and forced him to bring the Mandrake plant for her. When Mandrake’s scream killed Duggan, it was Mary who dragged him by the chain. So, some questions are answered.

Now, what happened to Mary’s husband? Well, her husband might have found out about Mary’s witchcraft and her rituals. He, too, may have tried to stop her, but Mary was beyond anyone’s control. So, Mary’s husband decided to put an end to all the witchcraft, and he set Mary on fire. However, Mary survived the fire and later killed her husband with an axe. Now, the story had a completely different version and was being shared in the neighborhood. They believed that since Mary was having an affair with Duggan, she was caught red-handed by her husband. Her husband had killed Duggan and later tried to burn Mary. However, the latter remained the same, as Mary killed her husband with an axe. However, this version fails to describe what we saw at the beginning of the movie. Mary’s husband, being how obnoxious he was, could never tie Duggan up in chains and make him bring a Mandrake plant from the soil. Anyway, now let’s move on to the next and most crucial question. Was Mary successful in bringing the Mandrake plant?


Mary did get the plant, but not by herself. She wanted to achieve her goal without taking any unnecessary risks. So, she put Duggan first, then two children, and later Cathy to do the job on behalf of her. Everyone died in the process except for Cathy. Cathy was a strong and independent single mother. She was a probation officer who was always in search of goodness, even in criminals. She believed that everyone could become a better person with a second chance. However, Mary was beyond the margin of good and bad. She was the evil one who would do anything to meet her goals. She even let the poor children die to have the Mandrake plant. So, once Cathy was Mary’s captive, Mary made her a crucial part of her ritual. Now, before going into the portion of how Mary came into possession of the Mandrake plant, let’s find out why she wanted to have the plant so badly. Well, what we know is that Mary was pregnant with a son when she was accused of killing her husband. She gave birth to Thomas, who was sent to child care away from Mary. Mary never had the joy of raising her son, so she wanted to relish the moments again. For that, she must get pregnant. So, she put her faith in the myths and believed that if she drank the sap of the Mandrake plant, she would have a child in no time. But she wanted to examine it before she continued with the process. So, she tried to manipulate Cathy by saying that if Cathy had one more child, perhaps her husband would have stayed with her. Basically, Mary wanted to see whether the sap of the Mandrake plant worked with Cathy or not. So, now, how did Mary get the Mandrake plant?

Mary put mud in Cathy’s ears as she knew that Mandrake’s scream could take her life, and once again, Mary would fail. She may have done the same for Shawn and the children, but they were extremely frightened, which made them more vulnerable in that particular situation and caused their deaths. But Cathy had a very strong will. She fought against all odds and survived the screams of the plant, picking the Mandrake plant out of the soil, though she fell unconscious soon after. Mary then performed the rituals with the help of the plant. Interestingly, we see a red liquid being fed to the plant. There’s a chance it was the blood of the children who were killed before Cathy arrived as Mary’s captive. To support this theory, we can look at one scene where the whole jar filled with blood had broken, and Thomas, Mary’s son, was crying over it. At that time, Mary told him that she would bring more. Later, we see Thomas grabbing Luke. Since the Mandrake plant had already been gathered, the only reason Luke was taken was that they needed his blood to perform the rituals again.


So, after cleansing the plant with water, Mary poured blood and milk on it. We see the Mandrake plant was alive until the moment Mary cut it. Then Mary gathers its sap and makes Cathy drink it. The following morning, Cathy did not feel anything but a headache; however, her injuries were recovering very quickly. We can assume that the Mandrake plant had no ability to make a woman fertile or pregnant; however, we see at the end of the movie that Cathy could feel Mary’s existence. In that scene, Cathy was holding a baby in front of the fireplace. There was a mirror. We see Mary standing naked in front of a fire in the deep forest. Everyone thought she had run away, but Cathy somehow felt her from inside her body. So, even if the Mandrake sap failed to make Cathy pregnant, it perhaps established a bridge between Cathy and Mary. Where would it lead? Well, that’s up to the makers if they ever come up with a sequel.

What Was the Identity Of The Wandering Man?

The wandering man was Mary’s son, Thomas. There was not much of a mystery to disclose. But why did he dress like that? We can assume that he wore the costume to hide his true identity. He was doing all the fieldwork on behalf of his mother, Mary. He used to kidnap the children, and it was he who attacked Cathy from behind. There is a slight possibility that Thomas liked drinking human blood. Cathy had found another jar filled with blood, and the door of the cabinet had blood on it too. Since they had not had the Mandrake plant at that time, Thomas’s drinking blood could be a possibility. But we can’t say anything for sure about the Wandering Man because the makers were very vague about where he came from.


“Mandrake” is a 2022 horror thriller film directed by Lynne Davison.

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Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy is a creative content writer. Formerly he used to write film reviews on an international film festival website named Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. He also interviewed global directors. He also interviewed one of the characters from the show 'Trailer Park Boys', Mr. Bernard Robichaud, platformed in Netflix. Shovan tends to write through the third person narrative and he loves to do psychoanalysis. He can't say that he has mastered it but that is some sort of hobby of his. Film is a platform where he loves to spend most of his time learning.

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