[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 12 – Mom and Dad (2017)

Director: Brian Taylor

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Lance Henriksen, Robert T. Cunningham, Brionne Taylor, Samantha Lemole

Screenplay: Brian Taylor

86 mins. Rated R for disturbing horror violence, language throughout, some sexual content/nudity and teen drug use.

 

I wasn’t a big fan of the directing duo of Neveldine/Taylor. Their work is very stylized in a way that just never works for me. Now, one of the two directors, Brian Taylor (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, TV’s Happy!) has gone out on his own to write and direct Mom and Dad. So what does a film with half of Neveldine/Taylor look like?

Teenager Carly (Anne Winters, Night School, TV’s 13 Reasons Why) and her brother Josh (Zackary Arthur, The 5th Wave, Mississippi Requiem) are brats. They don’t get along with each other, and they don’t really get along with their parents, but they are forced to work together in order to survive an insane 24-hour period in which all parents become enraged and try to kill their own kids.

Let me be clear here. Nicolas Cage (Face/Off, The Croods), as patriarch Brent, is so perfectly cast for this film. I read somewhere that Cage said this is his favorite film of his from the past decade, and I can see why. He’s playing himself. He’s insane in the movie. He’s insane in real life. This is Nicolas Cage doing exactly what he wants on a playground built for him. Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions, After) does fine work as matriarch Kendall, but it’s Cage who owns every scene he’s in. The supporting cast here is fine enough for the material, but make no mistake; this is Nick Cage’s movie.

Brian Taylor’s direction is still quite similar to his work with Neveldine/Taylor, but to a lesser extent. He has some style that works here but he also takes time to outline his world with the rules by presenting scenes that flesh out most of the rules even if he never fully fleshes out the characters. At the same time, his style takes over near the end and the film falls apart because of it. Sadly, the ending is a messy downer that doesn’t really cross the finish line.

Mom and Dad is a mostly-winning genre film that succeeds where others have failed, and it has a nice tight runtime with a lot of flashy fun. Its failures exist in failing to work in really strong characters and an ending that falls absolutely flat. It’s still a lot of fun to watch and the good outweighs the bad, but it isn’t without its failings.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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