Mom and Dad (2017)
They brought you into this world. Now, they'll take you out.
With mother’s day right around the corner, why not dive into a movie where the parent’s are trying to murder their kids? Horror comedy with some good old Nicolas Cage? Yeah, I’ve been waiting for this one since last week. I’ll be honest, expectations aren’t hugely high here - I expect a laugh or two be it intentional or not, and not a big old belly laugh as much as a “ha!” laugh. I expect at least one moment of a great Cage facial expression. I also expect some wacky antics. It’s not the tallest order on the planet, so let’s see if this bad boy can ante up or if it’s nothing more than a midlife crisis - tonight’s Mom and Dad.
The plot here was a simple pitch on trailers - what would happen if we made a zombie movie, where the zombies were just parents that wanted to kill their kids. Pure, simple, potentially violent. Mystery abound - why are parent’s murdering their spawn? Is it a terror attack? Is nature striking revenge? Is it aliens? To be honest, this is very much like a lot of the same movies it might sound like - it really doesn’t take much time explaining why things are happening beyond “nobody knows.” It’ll take the time to show you some newscasts to help progress the plot - purely in the sense of spreading theories and really just letting it be apparent the scope of the happenings. It doesn’t try to be super elaborate with it’s core plot, even if it does throw a little bit in on the idea of things - the burnout of being a parent, the potential resentment and the bonding of family, the tendency of kids to age out of enjoying the parents, even a little bit of midlife crisis. All of that could be found in there, but it’s never really presented in a manner that makes it feel like it’s preaching or it’s necessary to think into it while the movie is going. Sometimes it really doesn’t necessarily feel like it needs to be there - such as the crisis part - but it can somewhat add a bit of coincidental enjoyment when the horror aspect is flopped in and suddenly you see various members bonding together even though they may have been presented as a bit tense or at odds earlier.
Given the simple plot, most the enjoyment factor is left on presentation. The actors do a pretty darn good job of nailing that social commentary style acting while also getting really into their parts at times. As expected and desired, plenty of wonderful Cage faces are born throughout the movie, as the guy has quite the expressive face. One could point out that when it comes down to it, the dad character is often more over the top than the mother, be it an intentional play on the “untamed main whipped into submission by marriage” cliche or just the fact that they have Cage in the role I’ll leave up to your imagination. That said, when things hit the fan and it’s time for the mother to get unhinged, she does a pretty good job of doing a very reigned-in crazy that contrasts the dad’s unbridled lunacy. The kids do a good job of being scared in most the horror parts, but also get a few moments where they can have fun earlier on. The dynamic feels well done, even if perhaps it’s a bit exaggerated in most ways.
The rest of the action and scenes are all shot pretty well to boot. It looks nice - despite the rather sub-par quality of the screenshots taken of a youtube trailer given the still-existent issue of bluray screen capture. There are plenty of bright and dark moments, and the movie gets around to a good couple of settings, even if they all fit in the modern realm of believable places - hospital, home, school. It’s part of a big play on the movie when you think about it, the fact that everything seems so normal be it costumes or places to contrast the suddenly unbelievable events that are happening. It doesn’t help your thought process any either when you start to feel like maybe parents going mental and trying to off their kids isn’t so unbelievable either. The flow of it also keeps a pretty nice pace - there’s a few flashbacks inserted here or there that could mostly be ignored if they wanted to shorten the movie even further, but they are there with the intent of providing an emotional feedback of the person with whom the flashback occurs regardless of if it’s necessary in the end for the movie.
The effects on violence are pretty dang good as well. It’s pretty believable levels of damage here - it’s not someone getting punched in their head and having it explode like an old cheesy kung fu movie, nor is it gore and internal organs everywhere for the sake of it like some zombie movies. Most the violence is superficial - small wounds or cuts, or a bit of a blood spray here and there, but regardless it’s done well. There’s also a little bit of topless woman in the movie for those that may matter too. In honesty, for being rated R it’s really not as bad as it could be. Language can certainly be crude throughout, especially from the dad character, but it’s certainly conceivable to say that I’ve seen worse things rated PG before PG13 became a thing when it comes to violence. It’s also pretty well shot when it comes to scenes of action, with one of my particular favorites being one that’s somewhat mundane - a big old slap to the back of the head from the dad who makes this wonderful face right before he does it. There’s also a nice shot with some fire around the middle that is pretty darn nice.
Audio keeps things going as it’s supposed to. Although the music largely doesn’t get stuck in my head, I do admit it stands out a good couple of times. Some heavy rock or metal gets thrown on a few times, a little dubstep, plenty of synth and other background style songs. It feels wider than it is more than likely, but either way it’s more than what I really expected here. Actor lines are delivered well, and the balance of everything is done nicely. Chances are if you miss a line someone says, it’s probably more just the person being wacky in how they say it that makes it hard to catch. It all fits in nicely with the comment made before - it’s all put together pretty nicely. Looks good, sounds good. Mind you, this isn’t to say that it’s put together well critically - if I’m picking apart a movie on how it’s cut, edited, lit, and shot then I’m probably not going to really enjoy the movie for what it’s worth, and I’d rather have fun personally.
The movie can feel like it’s over pretty quick with the amount of things that happen, even if it does have some slower moments. It doesn’t really wrap things up by the end, so it can almost feel like it’s over prematurely - but at the same time, with a bizarre concept it’s most likely for the better that it didn’t keep going and try to answer questions like whey the event happened or how to fix it. Sometimes horror can be a lot better if we don’t try to answer all of the mystery, as it’s the unknown that can let imaginations run to whatever corner it finds darkest and scariest. It sets up a lot of things that it doesn’t forget about, usually coming around to something as if a point to show they’ve remembered. At the same time, there’s a few that don’t really feel like they go very far even though they are brought up. It also uses some of it’s elements - such as a character who isn’t a the main parent’s kid - wisely, but also in turn almost jokingly with how little it ends up actually getting used. By the time it gets to the end, there’s also a few moments of “why does this character care about that one so much” and things honestly get almost to the point of a live action cartoon chase scene.
Overall it’s just about as fun as I expected. It’s short enough it doesn’t overstay it’s premise, but in turn also doesn’t answer many questions and can leave some disappointed if they don’t want to be left hanging. Performances are pretty decent, if not a bit over the top. There’s plenty of commentary that you can either laugh or think about, or just ignore it if you don’t really care. In the end, if you watch the trailer and go “this looks fun”, then you’ll most likely have a blast. If you watch the trailer and hated every moment of it, I’d recommend you don’t watch it. I certainly got what I want out of it, and hey - maybe if you do watch it you’ll learn a valuable lesson about how you made your parent’s less cool and how despite them loving you, sometimes they really really want to kill you.