Mom and Dad took me by surprise with its speedy approach and upfront humor. Nicolas Cage (Color Out of Space, anything he can get his hands on) and Selma Blair (Hellboy, The Sweetest Thing) star as typical heads of the household who get swept up in a whirlwind of mass hysteria that causes parents to stop at nothing to eliminate their offspring. Written and directed by Brian Taylor, the creator of the Crank movies, so you know you’re in for a wild ride!
This is a film that was released right under my nose, but I didn’t notice it until it was on streaming services after a shoutout from John Waters. The lack of fanfare for Mom and Dad made me hesitant to commit my time to it, but I finally pulled the trigger and I’m glad I did. The first act has the feel of the Dawn of the Dead remake’s intro. Everywhere people are slowly starting to be effected by this craze. Alarming news reports keep popping up on TVs in the background while more and more acts of filicide occur. There is a scene where Cage is about to head to work and he just pauses in his driveway, looking up and down his street. His neighborhood holds an eerie silence; nobody is outside in the perfectly sterile suburb. A calm before the storm.
Mom and Dad is the perfect vehicle for Nic Cage to lose his shit. It’s almost as if he wrote it himself to play the lead, whereas Cage going apeshit in other films might be out of place. Blair’s persona isn’t to be taken lightly either. They both conjure up the fears and insecurities of the 20-going-on-50 “family plan” and push it to the extreme. Apart from the initial school freakout, the kids become second thoughts, but they weren’t the main focus of the plot anyway. Though they are sadistic, you are meant to root for the evil parental units.
This movie could have very easily gone full grim mode, but I think the playful violence and spastic soundtrack help move the pace along nicely with correct emotion. However, I would have gladly sat through another hour of Mom and Dad. After all, the flick has only 83 minutes to show for. The gore is spread pretty evenly when it isn’t being cut away from or only hinted at. I’ll grant some bonus points for the pleasant guest appearance towards the end but the preemptively stifled finale deprives resolution and knocks this one down a peg. I didn’t need them to explain the entire illness’s origin but revealing some kind of aftermath and/or consequences would have gone a long way. If your ultimate dream is to see Nicolas Cage go in on a pool table with a sledgehammer, then look no further.
3 babies that should have been spiked into the ground out of 5
BONUS REVIEW (MM 2018)
Sleepaway Camp was an instant classic for me even though I was decades late to the party. It does what Friday the 13th set out to do but much better in my opinion. The kill types are varied and the FX are great. The summer camp atmosphere is spot-on. I’ve attended a few in my day so I should know, but the 80’s aura is particularly enchanting. The constantly cruel hazing between the campers is overflowing with pitch perfect adolescence. And who could forget that shocking reveal? I’m sure that final shot is burned into the back of many viewers’ minds! Angela represents every time you felt put down as a kid and Ricky is that person who was always there to lift your spirits. Special props to the elegantly creepy Aunt Martha (Desiree Gould). Slash your way through the many tired sequels of the subgenre’s popular crowd and give this lesser celebrated snack a toast of your marshmallow.
5 brutal boatalities out of 5
BONUS REVIEW (MM 2019)
George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was the bee’s knees! Let’s see what else he’s got. Oh no! Let’s skip to Dawn of the Dead! The Crazies looks interesting enough from the cover, but its actual contents add up to a student film sum. In fact, most of the supporting cast were handpicked out of the towns they filmed in. A biological weapon is accidentally released into a small American town and the military rushes to clean (and cover) it up, but they struggle to fend off the afflicted rabid townsfolk. It’s a premise (coincidentally similar to Mom and Dad) that’s different enough from his previous zombie escapade but sadly it fails to have anywhere close to the impact of NotLD. I can barely recollect how close The Crazies (2010) is to the original, but I do know it is much more entertaining for sure. The Crazies (1973) should be swept under the rug along with all of the other government conspiracies.
2 white jumpsuits out of 5