Nic Cage’s filmography is jam-packed with classics, underrated gems, misfires and total pieces of shit but one thing is consistent and that’s that Nic Cage will show up and put his all into his work. His energy and charisma is what makes me desperately want to enjoy everything he’s in but goddamn he’s done some dumpster fires. Mom and Dad is a film I knew almost nothing about outside of the basic premise and that it was directed by Brian Taylor of Neveldine/Taylor. You’ll recognize that duo from the Crank series, Gamer and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. So, does this sink as heavily as Cage and Taylor’s last collaboration or does this one soar above? Let’s take a look at Mom and Dad.
The Ryan’s aren’t too far from your typical family—the energetic younger brother (Zachary Arthur), the teenage daughter with all the attitude (Anne Winters), a father (Nic Cage) tired with work and a mom (Selma Blair) trying to keep it all together, that being her family and her own sanity. Needless to say, the Ryan parents aren’t happy with where they are in life but they’re trying their best to keep afloat. When a strange phenomenon begins causing parents to kill their children with a zombie-esque hunger for murder, the Ryan family’s battle to stay afloat only becomes harder.
It’s been a long road to get to this review, this is the type of movie that is hard for me to explain but it’s worth trying to. Mom and Dad is odd when it comes to tone and story in its first act, you may struggle to stay with it but I implore you to do so. For the first 20-30 minutes it is this hilariously bizarre, intriguing story mixed with weird performances and odd editing, yet it still hangs onto some substance. The performances are hammy but they’re fun, all of the actors seem to get it and they are playing into that Brian Taylor style as much as possible. The story unfolds in very interesting ways, the premise is carefully infused with equal parts fun and tension. For a movie about killing kids, it’s able to cut around all of the deaths without losing a single bit of impact. Director Brian Taylor brings in the frenetic shooting and editing style from Crank, in fact he amps it up to 11 and it works.
The focus isn’t solely on the style either, the actors put so much energy into these roles. Anne Winters of 13 Reasons Why and Zachary Arthur of The 5th Wave impressed me more than anybody, each of them bringing an energy that matches with the insane tone of the film while also being able to keep up with actors such as Selma Blair or Nic Cage. They help you feel and fear for the characters, you genuinely want this family to figure out this whole situation and make it out okay. Nic Cage and Selma Blair are two insanely under-appreciated actors and this movie is a major reminder of it, they put so much into their characters whether it’s acting murderous and insane or sad and full of regret.
Selma Blair is probably the character you’re going to feel for the most, she’s the heart of it all and as the mom she helps brings everybody together and you feel that every step of the way. You believe them all as a family and she’s the one who sells it the hardest, you buy that she loves these kids which makes it even more frightening when she’s chasing them with a meat tenderizer. Another anomaly of acting is the fact that we get both modes of Nic Cage and that is something to fucking celebrate. you get completely crazy Nic Cage from the opening credits of Face/Off and genuinely broken-hearted, distraught Nic Cage selling you on his sorrow. The fact that this movie is able to have so much heart amidst all of the insane shit going on is something that I don’t see often enough in some horror movies today.
I need to give Brian Taylor major props for making a black comedy that had my jaw on the floor for the entire runtime. It’s exciting, emotional, hilarious, bizarre, tense and very satisfying for an entire 80-minutes. It’s rare that I see a new movie today that grabs my attention in such a fascinating way, it’s unpredictable and emotionally satisfying. That being said, I wasn’t crazy about Mom and Dad’s final moments. It felt very abrupt and strange, not in a good way, yet that doesn’t hurt the film for me. The journey up until that ending is so satisfying, especially that third act, that I didn’t mind it concluding the way it did. When shit gets going in the third act, it gets wild and that made up for an ending that sort of just petered off. I can’t remember the last time a movie had me in tears from laughing so hard, yelling “What the fuck!?” at the screen. I mean this in the most positive way possible.
Mom and Dad is a truly special horror movie, it’s also a movie that I’m not hearing many people talk about and that’s a shame. In this barren month of January when there’s nothing but Liam Neeson, Gerard Butler and ghosts in theaters, why not stay cozy at home and take a risk with something a little different? If you go out of your way to watch any new release this month, make it Mom and Dad. I’ve kept it vague enough for you so even if you’re reading this, Mom and Dad will still prove to be an unpredictable, exciting ride. I hope this begins a string of kickass Brian Taylor movies, whatever he’s got coming out next—I’m in.
Mom and Dad is currently available to Rent or Own on VOD platforms