Published on March 9th, 2018 | by voxx0
Mom and Dad
Out: 9 March
Length: 83 minutes
Director: Brian Taylor
Cast: Nicholas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zachary Arthur
Plot: Teenager Carly (Winters) and her little brother (Arthur) must survive a mass hysteria of unknown origins, which causes their parents (Cage, Blair) and other parents across town to turn against their kids.
It’s about time that we got the Nicholas Cage version of ‘The Shining’. He’s mad again, but this time he uses more of his frenetic energy to an advantage, as his character in ‘Mom and Dad’ goes bugfuck wackadoodle while trying to kill his kids. It is unexplained why he does it, but what it does show is that if you swing an axe at him he will go crazy. Like Jack Torrence he’s full on gonzo, and throughout he’s incredible to watch, whether he’s singing a messed up version of the hokey cokey while hacking at a pool table or running down a corridor while barking like a dog. Of course weapons are included, and instead of sticking to the axe – Torrence style, here it’s a more unique weapon called a Sawzall. “IT’S A SAWZALL,” Cage says with his bug eyed stare, “BECAUSE IT SAWS ALL.” It’s quite a poor pun, but you get the picture.
The plot of ‘Mom and Dad’ is absurd. After 80’s style opening credits, exclusively played to a subtle soul track, it starts off calm with Brent (Cage), a bored office drone who spends his time sleeping at his office. Then there’s Kendell (Blair), who gave up her career as a journalist to become a full-time housewife who struggles to find time for something else. They are the parents of two kids – a teenager and her little brother. On paper, it starts like an average thriller, but when writer-director Brian Taylor (‘Crank’ and ‘Crank: High Voltage’) changes the premise he adds crazy to his menu. For reasons unexplained and not properly explored, a nasty, mysterious disease turns the parents into ravenous murderers – their target: their children, as Taylor switches the film into ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’territory, and what he maniacally offers is an idea that’s executed in both disturbing and hysterical ways.
Sure, around the halfway point the giddy novelty of the bat-shit story wears off, leaving the execution about as shrill as a banshee’s scream after stepping on a Lego brick, but happily Taylor keeps things lively when the story needs revitalizing, by adding subtle flashbacks of Brent and Kendell’s memory showing a happier time with their kids. On occasion, as a horror satire, it works (Cage’s bulging eyes is enough to make you shudder). However due to the film’s nature in its disturbing violence it will sometimes leave you divided (a simply jaw-dropping delivery room sequence being a standout). Yet as a Cage mayhem delivery system, it’s utterly bonkers and highly effective.
Also, there’s a hysterically inspired late twist – a punch-line of sorts involving the older generation that kicks in just when it needs to, and there’s some muscular zippy camerawork. However, it’s just not hard to notice that this is indeed a wasted opportunity for Cage –maybe if there was a tighter script and a higher production value, it could be a new ‘The Shining’.
VERDICT: Despite the desperately shrill plot that loses steam halfway through, this is a surprisingly enjoyable and endlessly thrilling horror comedy that brings the Cage we know back into madness.
- By Corey Denford