Mom and Dad

Dir Brian Tay­lor, US 2017 On UK re­lease from 9 March

Fortean Times - - Reviews / Films - Leyla Mikelssen

Even hor­ror movies tend to re­spect cer­tain taboos: killing chil­dren and an­i­mals is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered a faux pas, es­pe­cially since it may alien­ate au­di­ences. Hard­core hor­ror fans find this rather te­dious, as it tends to lower the sense of sus­pense and dan­ger as­so­ci­ated with any hor­ror film that fea­tures young chil­dren (if not furry an­i­mals) among its pro­tag­o­nists. Even with main­stream au­di­ences now look­ing for more orig­i­nal ap­proaches to hor­ror than the usual stalk ‘n’ slash fare, a film like Mom and Dad will likely still pro­voke a strong re­sponse, as lit­er­ally no child is safe in this dark hor­ror com­edy.

With its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, the film sees par­ents across the globe sud­denly snap and start killing their chil­dren in a va­ri­ety of both amus­ingly over-the-top and gen­uinely dis­turb­ing ways. Gen­er­at­ing both plenty of laughs and pro­vid­ing some mildly stom­ach-churn­ing mo­ments thanks to noth­ing be­ing sa­cred here, the en­ter­tain­ment value of the film is ob­vi­ous. Main­tain­ing a good bal­ance be­tween fun and hor­ror, the film has plenty of mem­o­rable set pieces, which en­sures that things such as ma­ter­nity wards and wire coathang­ers will never be the same – al­beit the ap­pear­ance of the two are thank­fully un­re­lated in the con­text of this film.

For fans of Ni­co­las Cage’s in­fa­mously spir­ited over­act­ing,

Mom and Dad will be a wel­come treat, as the ac­tor is most def­i­nitely in on the joke about the cult sta­tus of his more ec­cen­tric per­for­mances. Go­ing ‘full Cage’, so to speak, the ac­tor does not hold back as an ab­so­lutely un­hinged fa­ther as he tries to kill his kids. Selma Blair serves as a more grounded con­trast to Cage, all the while still hav­ing plenty of fun with just how crazy the role of a mur­der­ous mother al­lows her to get. Do not look to this film for en­gag­ing char­ac­ter por­traits or de­vel­op­ment, though; it’s all about the con­cept and how far it can be taken.

Where the film stum­bles a bit is in its at­tempt to add a de­gree of so­cial com­ment. While the satir­i­cal un­der­tones are ev­i­dent through­out, the killing sprees make no greater point than to en­sure a some­what un­con­ven­tional nar­ra­tive. Like­wise, the mu­si­cal choices are also ap­plied with a cer­tain de­gree of wit; how­ever, the comic re­lief here is also only skin-deep, the light­ness of the song choices clash­ing at times with the score, which can be­come overly in­tru­sive and jar­ring.

Mom and Dad is, then, far from be­ing a genre mas­ter­piece that breaks new ground, but rather a darkly hu­mor­ous string of en­ter­tain­ing (un)pleas­antries that will thrill hor­ror fans and suf­fi­ciently hor­rify the ca­sual viewer.

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