'Mom and Dad' Is Art House Meets Grind House at a Comedy House
It could be said for every film, but I feel like in the horror industry especially, it is hard to find a movie that is unique. There seems to be a tried and true formula that most filmmakers refuse to stray from. That is why it is a breath of fresh air whenever a movie like this one comes along to give us more than just the same story with different actors. That's not to say that Mom and Dad is one hundred percent original, but it is a lot better than most of the garbage that is being put out these days.
Mom and Dad won me over despite its casting. I usually steer clear of Nicolas Cage films because I can't stand his acting and I don't remember the last time that I saw Selma Blair in anything. Though the kids have their fair share of IMDB credits, they are not immediately recognizable. Perhaps the most delightful bit of casting is film legend Lance Henricksen in a cameo appearance. There is a weird dichotomy here because, on the one hand, there is enough star power to warrant this film on the big screen, but on the other hand, it may not be entirely deserving of it. What that gives you is a direct to video horror movie that delivers above standard acting (even from Cage).
The plot of Mom and Dad is not entirely unheard of, but it is a new way of looking at an old story. It is kind of like a zombie film mix with Children of the Corn except for the adults are trying to kill the kids. The movie never really explains why or what is causing the sudden rage in parents but they drop enough clues for you to piece together a general idea. It seems as though there is some kind of mind control going on through radio and TV that is reversing a parent's natural instinct to protect their children and instead making them want to kill them. It sounds morbid but it makes for a pretty decent dark and comedic horror film.
What I found particularly entertaining about Mom and Dad is the balance between graphic horror and absurd comedy. It is not often that you talk about a horror movie being funny, but this one has genuinely comedic moments. Though it is definitely a horror film with literal buckets of blood they also poke fun at suburban life with yoga moms, mid life crisis, and a "family rules" print in every room of the house. It is a little embellished but being a stay at home dad in the suburbs I can say that it is really not that far off from reality.
For the most part, this movie is a lot of fun between the absurd comedy and often times even more absurd horror, but there is a darker element to the film. While most of the parents are being driven by this unseen force to off their offspring, Cage's character seems as though he would be able of such violence without the external prompting. There are multiple scenes of the dad of Mom and Dad losing his temper, at one point taking a sledgehammer to a pool table that he had just spent hours painstakingly put together. Though there are portrayals of parents murdering children, Cage's character's anger problems are somehow the most unsettling part of the movie.
The most criminally underrated part of this entire movie is the filmmaking. There are so many artful elements to Mom and Dad that the average movie watcher may not even pick up on the subtleties. The director, with help from the actors of course, does a great job at subtly, almost unrecognizably creating tension in scenes. There are certain words and even more misdirection used to make you think that the movie will stray from its original idea but it never does. This creates a feeling of unease throughout the entire movie that feeds into its fright factor.
Whoever was in charge of choosing the music for this film should win an award. The movie starts like a '70s film complete with a haunting song from the '60s by Dusty Springfield called Yesterday When I Was Young. I suggest you don't listen to that song more than once or it will get into you head, and not in a good way. The rest of the movie is filled with songs that represent the ebb and flow of the film. Some of them are questionably even songs while others fit perfectly with the scene. Just like every element of Mom and Dad the music plays a subtle but important part in the entire ambiance of the movie.
I was ready to hate this movie. It stars Nic Cage, it is direct to video, it is the perfect storm of a terrible movie. The truth is that I genuinely enjoyed this movie, apart from the ending which really made me mad. I'm still wrestling with myself whether I want to buy this movie or not, but I will say that it is, without a doubt, worth watching at least once.