Pay ‘Mom & Dad’ A Visit At Your Own Risk

by Ben Martin

Sadly, when it comes to movies today, we’re treated to the tried and true. Look at what’s playing any given week, and you find a sequel, a reboot, a universe or an adaptation of an already established property. However, while movies conceived from original screenplays may not find their way to theaters, at least not on in a wide-release, these original movies can find their way to you; thanks to home video. Unlike the direct-to-video releases of a decade or so ago, movies that don’t see the light of the silver-screen are more legitimate now. If simply because there are so many different ways to release a film now as opposed to then. Mom & Dad is one of these titles. It’s a movie that had a very limited theatrical run mere weeks ago, which you can now find on home video via your preferred format.

This movie focuses on a suburban family. On the surface, this nuclear, well-to-do family is happy enough. Like every other family unit it in the world, this one has their frustrations with one another. The father of this family, Brent Ryan (Nicolas Cage) is a good dad, but undoubtedly one who has worked his life away. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that his frustrations are bolstered by a mid-life crisis. Brent’s wife and the mother of their children, Kendall (Selma Blair) also seems to be struggling with her stay-at-home mom lifestyle. Granted these parental frustrations are understandable as their teenage daughter, Carly (Anne Winters) is a hand-full. The only member of this household who seems completely content is the young son, Josh (Zackary Arthur). Despite their conflicts and issues, there’s no doubt this family ultimately loves each other. That is until one day when all the parents in the world inexplicably contract a 24-hour-virus in which their sole intent is to murder their children. For one day, Carly and Josh will have to attempt to survive their parents’ homicidal rage.
Writer/director Brian Taylor, one half of the cinematic duo Neveldine/Taylor is going solo for this film. Taylor has proven in the past, that he has style; one which is intense and kinetic. In the case of Mom & Dad, this style fits and enhances the picture. Alas, the narrative here is ultimately also the movie’s most-notable problem. Yes, this is an exploitation film. Thus, a movie based around parents wanting to kill their kids should be a perfect fit. Unfortunately though, this idea quickly fizzles out. Therefore, it manages to become as dull and repetitive as a family dinner you got roped into at the last minute on a bad day. I understand having to take a micro-focus on one family to tell this story. Hell, that’s practical; however, there just isn’t enough here.

Despite the lacking storyline and its problems, the cast here is good enough. What’s most interesting about watching the performances in this flick is that they are a dichotomy on display.. Both Anne Winters (13 Reasons Why) and Zackary Arthur (Transparent; Ray Donovan) deliver decent and realistic performances. On the other end of the spectrum there is Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) and Selma Blair (Hellboy). The two seasoned actors and comic book genre vets are hamming it up here and having a great time. You would think such a schism in acting styles between characters who share a significant amount of screen time would be hard to watch. To the contrary though, I thought the uneven performances were befitting of the cheesy genre in which they’re rooted. It should also be noted that genre favorite, Lance Henriksen (Aliens) has a small part in the picture as well. However, the actors and their interesting choices can’t save this movie from being a slog, despite its 84-minute runtime.

Mom & Dad is ultimately a good genre idea that just doesn’t have enough juice. Therefore, the lacking notion makes the film that comes out of it feel like a poorly executed waste of time. I can only mildly recommend this movie if you’re a fan of exploitation films. If that’s the case, I would say to watch if it pops up on Netflix or TV, and you can’t find something else to watch. Or, if a Nicolas Cage canon completist. I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to his filmography myself. Pay Mom & Dad a visit at your own Risk.


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