Time: 83 Minutes
Nicolas Cage as Brent Ryan
Selma Blair as Kendall Ryan
Anne Winters as Carly Ryan
Zackary Arthur as Josh Ryan
Robert T. Cunningham as Damon
Olivia Crocicchia as Riley
Brionne Davis as Tanner
Samantha Lemole as Jenna
Lance Henriksen as Mel Ryan
Director: Brian Taylor
Definitely something terrible is happening on in the peaceful suburban community as, one day to another, former loving and caring parents mysteriously turn into ravenous carriers of an unfathomable pandemic that targets their offspring. Suddenly, every son and daughter (not only in the neighborhood but also in the entire nation) must to run for their lives, as the rage-filled murderous intent is simply as unstoppable as it is inexplicable. Of course, Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall’s (Selma Blair) teenage children are no exception, and before long, the simmering but usual familial tensions will take a completely different meaning. Kids, stop hiding. Mum and Dad love you so much.
I was interested in Mom and Dad, mainly because its Nicolas Cage going absolutely crazy in a movie where he tries to kill his children, directed by one of the directors of Crank. It sounded absolutely nuts and I was on board with it. I wasn’t really sure what the actual movie would be like, I just knew Cage would be nuts and I heard that the movie is actually pretty good for the movie that it is, and that’s pretty much the case. Mom and Dad is an weird, insane darkly comic horror movie, which is quite entertaining and surprisingly works. Its two lead performances however are what makes it really work.
The first 20 minutes of the movie are setting up things before the whole “everyone tries to kill their children” epidemic happens. While the writing and dialogue can feel a little iffy, most of this is to establish the similarities between this situation and the troubled relationships between parents and kids. After that 20 minute mark though, that’s when the children murdering epidemic starts, and it doesn’t let up after that. There isn’t any clear explanation for why parents are killing their children, theories are thrown around and that’s it. That really worked for me personally, doesn’t overcomplicate the plot. The movie keeps things reasonably straightforward, the plot isn’t convoluted and the characters are really simple. The writing itself is basic enough but it works. The Crank movies at times can have some bad writing but for the most part you don’t see that in Mom and Dad (with the exception of one supporting character which was pretty much written to be a stereotype). Now it is worth noting that this is a dark comedy, because so much of what happens is so violent and over the top that it does much more than just border on hilarity, the humour is a big part of the movie. It’s not a straight up scary horror movie. It doesn’t take things too seriously but there is some subtext with the parents’ frustrations even before the epidemic starts, especially with flashbacks with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. While most movies (especially bigger movies) would have the parents be loving and all that before their rampage, they already establish them as being very unstable and not having the best of relationships with the children, which I think works well and makes it more effective. Mom and Dad is less than an hour and 30 minutes long and that really worked, there’s enough time to set up the characters and everything up before the epidemic starts, and after that point it’s entertaining right till the end. I will say though that a disappointing aspect was the ending. While I understand why they wanted to end on the note that they do, its rather abrupt and I wanted something a little more.
Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair are a big part of why this movie works. Sure the story concept sounds entertaining enough but it requires really convincingly unhinged performances to make it work, and they really brought it. They play both very convincing frustrated parents before the epidemic, as well as completely psychopathic parents who want to kill their children during the epidemic. Of course Nicolas Cage particularly stand out (as he would being Nicolas Cage), from the very beginning he’s crazy and has the movie goes on he just gets more and more crazy, and sometimes it can lead to some hilarious moments. I’m not going to reveal most of his big moments, but one of his stand out moments is when he screams the hokey pokey song while destroying a pool table with a sledgehammer. 2018 seems to be a comeback for Cage, with both this and Mandy. With that said, Selma Blair’s performance shouldn’t be overlooked either because she’s great as well. While Cage has a mix of being scary and funny, Blair comes across as being convincingly scary and unhinged. The kids of Cage and Blair played by Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur are okay, they serve their purposes well enough.
This movie is directed by Brian Taylor, who was involved with directing the Crank movies as well as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance alongside Mark Neveldine, and if you have seen these movies, you’ll definitely pick that up watching Mom and Dad. Now there aren’t crazy stunts being done or anything, but he does bring the style from his previous movies here, with the editing, cinematography and all that. Some of the crazy and wild camera movements might be a little too much for some people (here it’s a little incomprehensible at times), but for those who have seen the Crank movies, it’s much more tame in comparison. This movie does not hold back at all, especially with the violence. It is brutal, and really ballsy considering much of the movie’s violence shown is against children. With that said it’s not nearly as bloody as you’d think it would be, I can’t tell whether it should’ve been more bloody or if the less is more approach was better. The music used can get a little repetitive and annoying, especially during the intense and violent scenes.
Mom and Dad is a completely nuts, darkly comedic horror movie, that’s simple but effective. The unhinged performances by Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair really make the movie work as well as it does. If you’re a big fan of Nicolas Cage, this is a must see movie. If you’re up for a darkly comic and over the top made by one of the directors of Crank, this might be right up your alley. Just know that if you are going to watch Mom and Dad, don’t take it too seriously.