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FILM REVIEW - MOM AND DAD ****
Directed by Brian Taylor. Starring Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Lance Henriksen. USA Comedy/Thriller, 86 mins, cert 15.
Released in cinemas in the UK by Vertigo on the 9th March. 2018.
It's always good to see a new Nicolas Cage movie, because there's always the chance he's going to overact wildly: rolling his eyes, pulling faces, randomly shouting. MOM AND DAD is a gift for fans of Cage in bonkers mode, giving him plenty of opportunities to do his bug-eyed shouty freakout routines that go back as far as FACE/OFF and VAMPIRE'S KISS. And the man does not disappoint.
Harassed dad Brent (Cage) and frustrated mum Kendall (Selma Blair) are clearly loving but ineffective parents to sulky teen Carly and younger Josh (Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur). The kids are both annoying and undisciplined, and frankly need a good slap, but it's only when they're at school that they realise that the building is suddenly besieged by parents, like George Romero's zombie hordes. With no external authority figures in charge - National Guard, scientists, local cops - chaos and murder quickly ensue as the younger generation have to fight back to stay alive. Meanwhile Kendall's sister is about to give birth...
A simple premise for a blacker than black domestic horror comedy: for some unknown reason parents start attacking and killing their own children. It happens without warning and affects everyone with kids, no matter how old (or young). It feels as though it might all be down to one of those subliminal messages buried in the hash of TV white noise, but it's actually to the film's credit that no real explanation is given for the outbreak. In truth it doesn't really matter what the cause was, and any explanation would just raise more questions. Even so, a few interesting questions remain: what if you were adopted? What if you never knew you'd fathered that child? What would you do if your kids were on the other side of the world?
With its old-fashioned retro credits and occasionally inappropriate score, Mom And Dad is in gleefully atrocious taste, kicking off with a mother casually parking her car on a railway line and walking off, leaving her tot on the back seat in front of an express. It has some of the scrappy, excessive energy that Taylor (as half of the Neveldine/Taylor partnership) brought to GAMER and the CRANK movies: over the top, full throttle trash. Yet for all that mayhem, probably the film's most chilling and effective moment is the sight of army of fathers standing outside the hospital's Incubator Room, staring in at the ranks of their newborns.
I didn't much care for the duo's earlier films (CRANK is just so hyper-hyper that it ends up as exhausting after about fifteen minutes), but I enjoyed this one a lot more: horrifying, farcically violent, vicious entertainment skirting the very edge of bad taste, but not falling (or leaping) in like the worst excesses of Troma. Some of the crash-cutting is annoying, but mostly it's good nasty fun which has miraculously escaped with a 15 certificate, presumably because although the mayhem is bloody and extensive, none of it is sexual. Confusingly, it's called MOM & DAD in the opening credits and MOM AND DAD at the end; it's nothing to do with the low-budget British horror MUM AND DAD from 2008.
MOM AND DAD ****
MOM AND DAD ****
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MOM AND DAD ****