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‘Mom and Dad’ (review)

Produced by Christopher Lemole, Tim Zajaros
Written and Directed by Brian Taylor
Starring Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair,
Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Olivia Crocicchia,
Brionne Davis, Samantha Lemole

 

An unexplained outbreak is causing parents to do the unthinkable: gleefully attempt to murder their own children. This premise separates Mom and Dad from other filicide flicks, such as The Omen or The Good Son, wherein the parent reluctantly wishes to kill their child because they are convinced they’re evil. Nope, these folks turn on a dime from being loving (or in some cases shitty but non-homicidal) parents to determined maniacs.

Cage and Blair play two such imperfect-but-loving parents who bemoan the lack of communication between them and their teenage daughter (a very good Winters). They still have a good relationship with their younger son, but for how long?

The fears of losing one’s youth and losing one’s child (whether figuratively or otherwise) are the themes here, and while examined superficially, they could have been scrutinized in far more depth here.

When I heard the premise of the film, I thought it sounded very interesting. When I heard it was with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair, I became excited at the prospect of seeing these two scheming to slaughter their kids.

Well, be careful what you wish for, as Mom and Dad is just that for most of its running time: Cage and Blair scheming to kill their kids.  Nothing wrong with that, and in fact I liked Mom and Dad.  Blair is excellent and Cage, while uneven as usual lately, is mostly strong here and his awkward moments are made up for by his trademark “Cage-y” ones.

After some fun opening titles and the introduction of the family and their dysfunctions, Mom and Dad kicks into high gear fairly quickly and rarely lets up. This film qualifies as fast-paced, sick fun, with various parents killing their kids in over-the-top, nasty ways (the film is directed by Brian Taylor, one half of the directing team behind the bonkers Crank films) before settling in to becoming basically a siege thriller, with the kids hiding out in the basement as Cage and Blair try any way they can to either get themselves down there or force the kids out.

To reiterate, Mom and Dad is entertaining (this depends, of course, on your having the stomach for this premise), but while I got what I wanted, I realized I really wanted more. As mentioned earlier, there are thematic nods to getting old and having responsibilities and being jealous of your kids’ youth, but I wish the film had gone much further. I felt Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive covered the filicide angle with much more aplomb and was more affecting and disturbing (to be fair, it’s a very different premise with different intentions but there are similarities).

In fact, I was quite surprised that I rarely – if ever – found Mom and Dad to be disturbing at all.

Whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is up to the individual viewer (as is whether or not the film is actually disturbing), but while I certainly was hoping for a crazy, mean flick with an unhinged Cage going ballistic on his kids (and I mostly received that), I really thought it should have upped the ante with some vicious satire, brutally honest revelations about parenthood, and some actual emotional resonance.

But, you can’t have everything, and despite my greed for substance, I still would call Mom and Dad a success. If you dig nasty, fun horror flicks and especially if you like Cage or Blair, give Mom and Dad a whirl.

 

Mom and Dad is now in theaters, on VOD and Digital HD

 

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