M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2017 and going through September 30, 2018. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on January 19, 2018. Available on Blu-ray/DVD, On Demand, and digital download! Also streaming on Hulu!
MOM AND DAD (2017)
Directed by Brian Taylor
Written by Brian Taylor
Starring Nicholas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert T. Cunningham, Olivia Crocicchia, Lance Henriksen, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Samantha Lemole, Joseph D. Reitman, Rachel Melvin, Bobby Richards, Sharon Gee, Edwin Lee Gibson, Brionne Davis, Mehmet Oz, Grant Morrison, Adin Steckler, Cassidy Slaughter-Mason, Sheri Carbone, Angela Weathers
The director behind the two CRANK films and ScyFy’s HAPPY! offers up one of the most ballistic and fun contagion movies of the year. Sure, Brian Taylor also gave us GHOST RIDER: SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE, but they can’t all be winners. MOM AND DAD, though, surely is one.
Brent (Nic Cage) and Kendall (Selma Blair) are struggling with parenthood, adulthood, and growing older. The myth of growing older has faded and they now simply walk, zombie-like through their boring day to day routine of parenting their rambunctious and rebellious kids, Carly (Anne Winters) and Josh (Zackary Arthur). But something twisted is in the air. Suddenly, across the country, parents are getting the uncontrollable urge to kill their offspring. The term is called “savaging” and along with every other parent across suburbia, Brent and Kendall want to murder their own. This leads to a game of cat and mouse between parent and child where resentments and familial strife get deadly.
On the surface, MOM AND DAD is a contagion film where people en masse are going against their better judgment and killing people. That’s not new. But what is new is the concept of parents with the urge to kill their children. This acts on a dark impulse I imagine every parent feels a time or two in their lives and that added layer is all that is necessary for this film to really work. It’s makes these killings more resonant and paired with the non-stop pacing we guffawed at in the cartoonish CRANK films makes MOM AND DAD truly unique. The film takes its time to give us examples of how the rage in Cage and Blair’s characters are bubbling right below the surface. These problems aren’t anything spectacular. It’s their mundanity that makes it all the easier to empathize with the parent’s problems. But once their urges are set loose, Taylor quickens the pace and never stops until the very end. The carnage truly is impressive indeed.
Which brings me to the master of mayhem, Nic Cage. Cage unleashes the beast both physically as he is an imposing character, but also through his rants as he screams about growing older, missed opportunities, getting fatter, losing his hair, and so on. It had to be pretty cathartic for Cage to play this character as it seems to channel real fears he may be having as he grows older. Blair does the same thing, not only complaining about missing her youth, but really expressing woes everyone has as they begin to realize their best years are behind them. It’s these truths and their delivery from these two great actors that make it all feel so rich. Of course, seeing Cage go nuts with power tools and sledge hammers never gets old and he does so with so much glee here.
From the beginning of MOM AND DAD, which opens retro-style, Taylor really does make every moment feel like he’s trying his best. That is, until the ending. If there’s a fault to MOM AND DAD, it is that it really doesn’t know how to end all of this madness. Taylor doesn’t offer any solution and instead just sort of stops filming. It could be that Taylor wanted to end on a nihilistic note, and I guess that’s ok. Still, ending it this way makes it feel more like Taylor simply couldn’t think of a way to wrap things up, so while I loved every moment of MOM AND DAD, it ends on a sort of “is that it?” moment. Faulted ending aside, MOM AND DAD is a barrel of bloody fun. It never lets up from the beginning and gets deep enough into all of our fears of growing old to make all of that violence hit close to home.
P.S. look for a cameo by comic book writer Grant Morrison who wrote the HAPPY! comic and worked with Taylor on the TV series.
THE 2017-2018 COUNTDOWN!
#20 – MOM & DAD
#21 – THE LANDING
#22 – TONIGHT SHE COMES
#23 – THE RITUAL
#24 – THE BABYSITTER
#25 – MARROWBONE
#26 – BETTER WATCH OUT
#27 – THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD
#28 – BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE
#29 – PYEWACKET
#30 – TERRIFIER
#31 – MAYHEM
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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