Director: Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters and Zackery Arthur
In the endless barrage of recent films starring Nicolas Cage, there are a few good ones. Mom and Dad is a really good one. Directed by Brian Taylor (who previously co-directed Crank 1 & 2 as well as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, also starring Cage), Mom and Dad is a horror-comedy that is full of energy, craziness and high-octane violence.
Cage is absolutely brilliant throughout as the unhinged Brent. A highlight being when he sings Hokey Cokey while smashing up a pool table, he had just spent hours building perfectly. It’s over the top insanity in a way that only Cage can be. Contrasting that is Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde), who plays Brent’s wife, Kendall in the film. Her character is more subtle and subdue, complimenting Cage’s crazy while they both try to kill their children.
That’s what Mom and Dad is about. Some kind of disease that makes every parent in America want to kill their children, regardless of age. The origins are never really explained, not that it matters. It just starts, almost out of nowhere and then children are at risk, even new-borns, in one very dark sequence. It’s only their own children, that the parent’s want to kill. They can see the insanity of the other parents but find joy in it themselves.
While the premise is dark and horrific, the film itself is much more light-hearted and focused on the comedy, rather than horror. The pacing and camerawork are energetic and hectic, much like Taylor’s earlier films. Quick cuts are used well, fast moving sequences adding to the humour and making the story compelling. There is a lot of tension as the children are being chased around, and after seeing how brutally their peers are murdered, you want them to survive. Even if at first the two children, Carly and Josh played by Anne Winters and Zackery Arthur, are intentionally annoying. You can completely see how the parents are pushed to their limits, it’s only when they snap and go off the rails, that you start to side with the children. You will them to survive, as their parents try everything to kill them, from power saws to gassing them out of the basement.
Adding to the craziness of Cage’s performance and character is the flashbacks. In which Kendall is always shown as caring, rational and understanding. Brent on the other hand is unhinged, threatening death on his son in a flashback alongside the previously mentioned pool table, which is also in a flashback. He’s one step away from murder anyway, whatever causes the murderous intent isn’t needed, as he’s one hotel stay away from being Jack Torrance from The Shining.
Sadly, the film does feel very slow at the beginning. Even though it is barely above 90 minutes, it does feel like it takes a little while to get going. When it does, you’re hooked, but it does take what feels like a long time to get there. There are also moments where it is tense in the later half, but it feels like they should be scarier. It’s unhinged, but it never appears like the 2 main children are in real danger.
Overall, it’s a really good film. It’s funny, tense and once it gets going, it doesn’t slow down until the credits roll. This is Cage at his crazy best, and should go down as one of his classics.