Carly Ryan (Ann Winters) is the rebellious teenage daughter of dad Brent (Nicholas Cage) – who’s sick of the corporate family life he was never meant for – and mom Kendall (Selma Blair) – who’s tired of being “the bad guy” to a daughter she can’t seem to connect with anymore. Carly steals money from Kendall, does drugs with her friend, and is in an interracial relationship with someone a grade older than her (Robert T. Cunningham). Her younger brother Josh (Zackary Arthur) gets to stay home having fun all day with the Chinese-American maid and her daughter.
Without warning, parents around the nation start going berserk with the insatiable need to murder their own children! They come to the school and stampede the fleeing kids, but killing only their own children while leaving others alone. Carly and her friend make it out, only for her friend to get murdered by her mother at her house. Carly and her boyfriend go back to Carly’s house to check Josh and try to get him out when their dad arrives and tries to kill them. They manage to escape him to the basement, only for mom to come home and join the battle.
Mom and Dad is an amusing horror/thriller with satirical tones from writer/director Brian Taylor (Crank: High Voltage, Gamer). It’s a cool twist on the “everyone goes bleeping crazy and wants to kill everyone” subgenre we’ve seen before in movies like ultra low-budget 2007 indie The Signal and 2010’s The Crazies. It does for that story archetype what Cooties did for the zombie genre in 2014 (though not nearly as comical).
This may seem like a very unusual movie to say this about being that it’s essentially a horror/thriller with light comedy, but this movie features what might be Selma Blair’s strongest performance since… well… ever, really. I was shocked! But it becomes easier to understand once you realize that hers is the best written role. Cage’s role is pretty well written as well, and their dynamics together are easily the most in-depth characterization of the film. It’s hardly shocking, but Cage plays Brent so far over the top it’s hard to take him seriously.
It’s ridiculousness that feels like he’s playing an evil version of Big Daddy with no Hit Girl in sight. But Selma Blair seems to connect with the feelings of uselessness her character feels and the need to be relevant. She pours such authentic emotion into the role, it feels bizarre that she saved this performance for a movie that’s essentially a mindless Friday night popcorn fest rather than a powerful drama.
The kids are… well they’re kids in a horror film. Nothing memorable or noteworthy about any of their performances, other than the resiliency of one of the characters (you’ll not get any further spoilers from me).
The film looks great with action packed cinematography from Daniel Pearl who is usually a music video DP, though he’s done work on indie films like The Apparition and The Boy. This cinematographer is definitely someone to keep an eye out for in the horror/thriller genres in the future.
There are some story issues though (some reprimanding for Mr. Taylor). For instance, why is the youngest son at home all day when a piece of dialogue alludes to him being 9 years old? And why is Riley’s boyfriend taking the PSATs on a school day (those take place on weekends)? And why does Brent become such a whiney baby in the presence of his wife? And why do the older folk want to kill their adult children too but not their grandkids? And how does [character I won’t name to stay spoiler-free] survive all this madness? And why oh why does it it end so anticlimactically?
Brian Taylor deserves credit for writing and putting together a fun little flick and managing to coax a career-best performance from Selma Blair and having a strong vision for Daniel Pearl to bring to life. Though, he also deserves some reprimanding for not reigning in Nicholas Cage a bit more to the side of relatable (though these two worked together before in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, so maybe dealing with Cage’s zaniness was a necessity to get the movie to happen at all).Yes, there are issues, but if you just shut your brain off for 90 minutes, you’ll have a good time with Mom and Dad.