Mom and Dad
Dir Brian Taylor, US 2017 On UK release from 9 March
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.