Haven’t seen mother yet, but then the people deciding on its budget hadn’t seen it either, and that’s the decision we’re talking about
Just saying, the movie’s budget is a lot more understandable from that angle than if you compare it to “Noah”.
Filmed with the tools of a horror movie though. That’s what made it different. Second part of the trailer shows it, too:
(I should add that that was really the only interesting thing about that movie. It was otherwise a pretty boring and predictable story with often terrible dialogue.)
So, you know. Artsy thriller/horror material, and Jennifer Lawrence is pretty much in the place where Portman was back then. I can see why they didn’t see a 30 million budget as a big risk when Aaranofsky pitched the movie.
EDIT: All this has really made me want to see mother!, if nothing else.
EDIT: Oh, and this is interesting: “mother!” has a higher metacritic score than rottentomatoes score (75% and 68% respectively), which fits the idea that it is a divisive movie - on rottentomatoes, the movies that do best are the ones with very broad appeal; if everybody kind of liked it but nobody loved it, it will still get 100% percent.