Released: 19th January
Seen: 4th December (Catch-Up Screening)
This year might be the best year Nicolas Cage has had in a very long time, this year he’s put his names on such amazing films as Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, Mandy and Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse, films where he’s been allowed to have a lot of fun and either deliver a really clever vocal performance or just be the pure maniacal insane man we kind of love. Mom and Dad combines both of those performance styles for what is arguably his best role of the year, and one of the most delightfully dark films in recent memory.
Mom and Dad centres around the Ryan family, a simple little house with a mother, father, son and daughter. They live a fairly normal live in suburbia with the daughter rebelling against the rules her parent’s set out for her, the mother trying to get back in the workforce now that her children are grown up enough that they don’t need her around and the father going through a midlife crisis that manifests itself in trying to build a pool table even though he doesn’t like pool… and the son is doing something, whatever normal boys of that age do. Everything is normal for them, indeed it’s normal for all the families of (Insert suburban town here) until one day something happens and the parents have a sudden uncontrollable need to kill their children and will go to any lengths to get that job done.
This film feels like it belongs in a Grindhouse, or at least in one of those cult movie theatres that play strange obscure 80’s horror films that pushed against societal standards of taste. The concept itself would have fit right in around the time when every strange horror/slasher concept was being tried, and thankfully someone took it and went all out with it. With a horror concept like “Parent’s can’t help but wanting to kill their kids”, a fan of that style of horror is going to want them to commit to that idea in as many ways as possible and this movie completely commits to it’s insanely over the top idea, almost as much as Nicolas Cage commits to his insanely over the top performance. While the film isn’t as gory as one might’ve expected in the 80s, when taste was optional, it still shocks because it will show everything up to the last second and let your mind fill in the blanks. It also really makes sure that it’s clearly parent’s killing their own kids, no one elses, just their own… no matter how old or how young. By that inference alone I hope you’re aware of where this film is going, if that’s a line for you then be prepared for that.
By far the standout performances of this film are those of the leads, Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair who bounce off each other with great comedic ease. The scenes of them interacting, while trying to figure out how to murder their own offspring, are genuinely hilarious. There’s an incredible amount of comedy in this film, there has to be in order to make the idea fun and silly instead of just depressing… although they do touch on some depressing elements of this idea, including one scene where a character almost doesn’t notice the difference between ‘Murderous Rage’ and ‘Standard Tuesday Drinking Session’. It’s a mix of dark comedy and just plain dark that works really well to make this idea palatable.
The hard thing about this film is that it’s definitely the kind of film where you have to be the exact right kind of audience to enjoy it. I, personally, am a gigantic fan of those extreme strange horror films from the 80s where they would have these strange concepts that might be taboo. This kind of film idea is one you have to be in the right frame of mind to get into, because you have to be willing to actively enjoy a film about parent’s killing kids and while this is fictional, presumably caused by a wizard and over the top as hell (Again, NICOLAS CAGE) it’s also a concept that some will not be OK with. This film feels like it belongs in the same category as the Masters of Horror episode The Screwfly Solution, which was a similar idea but made it about gender instead of parenting so if you watched that episode and enjoyed it, here’s the feature-length version.
Good throwback horror films are hard to come by, but this year’s been really good with giving some quality reminders of that old style of horror. Mom and Dad is a shocking thrill ride that will have you laughing, screaming and then a combination of the two that will be loud enough to scare your dogs. An absolute must see for any horror fan.
What did you think of Mom and Dad? What’s your favourite Horror/Comedy movie? Let me know in the comments below