Mom­mie dullest

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

TIMES HAVE changed since Charles Kauf­man’s Mother’s Day, a bot­tom-shelf slasher com­edy, was first spewed out by the Troma im­print. When movies were big and brash and fan­tas­ti­cal, no­body asked ques­tions when The Hitcher kept a-hitchin’, Duel kept on truck­ing and the Dea­dites in The Evil Dead just wouldn’t stay that way. Con­tem­po­rary au­di­ences, how­ever, de­mand re­al­ism of their hor­ror films, a vogue that has seen an­cient fran­chises (Texas Chain Saw Mas­sacre, Hal­loween) recom­mis­sioned as hand­held dig­i­tal vérité.

The same alchemy comes un­stuck with high-con­cept ti­tles. No­body wanted to see Freddy’s porn dun­geon in last year’s Night­mare on Elm Street re­make be­cause su­per­nat­u­ral bo­gey­men have no busi­ness pop­ping up in a vis­ual age of rea­son.

The clash of styles is ev­i­dent from the get-go in this slap­dash re­make. The 1980 orig­i­nal was an ab­surd satire in the vein of The Baby or The Step­ford Wives; Dar­ren Lynn Bous­man, the di­rec­tor of Saw II, III and IV, is arch enough to cast Re­becca De Mor­nay in the tit­u­lar role of the de­mented ma­tri­arch. but other­wise keeps things Jig­saw-lite.

The ev­ery­thing-but-the­ban­jos psy­chobilly sons of Kauf­man’s orig­i­nal are now a dys­func­tional fam­ily of bank rob­bers. They no longer, at mama’s bid­ding, do un­speak­able things to nu­bile young campers to the strains of I Think We’re Alone Now. In­stead, in keep­ing with ev­ery other hor­ror movie of the age, the Kof­fin (yes, re­ally) gang plump for home in­va­sion.

Find­ing a din­ner party and new oc­cu­pants where the old hide­out used to be, the boys panic and call in mom­mie dear­est. Mean­while, their re­luc­tant hosts and var­i­ous sub­ur­ban grotesques are locked in the cel­lar, where ten­sions sur­face even be­fore the in­ter­lop­ers start pick­ing them off.

Mother’s Day needed to be camp and height­ened and in­ven­tive in its bru­tal­ity, or at least coolly ni­hilis­tic like The Strangers. But it’s just a lot of fast cuts, a saleable ti­tle and con­fir­ma­tion of Re­becca De Mor­nay’s where­abouts. The vic­tims are com­mend­ably hor­rid. The de­noue­ment is suit­ably medieval. But the Kof­fin fam­ily were a lot more fun with­out the re­al­ism and Dr Phil speak.

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