Mom and Dad Review: Homegrown Carnage

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Look, everyone should know going into Mom and Dad what they’re getting into: this is a a film from Brian Taylor (best known for the Crank films) about parents who, through some unexplained biological agent, can’t stop themselves from trying to murder their children. It also stars Nicolas Cage at his absolute hammiest. This film is so ridiculously messed up in a way that can be so ridiculously fun, but of course it’s genre and lack of narrative outside of being, well, ridiculous ends up limiting the heights it can reach.

That said, on the weekend before the Academy unveils the nominations for the 90th Oscars, injecting some well-made grindhouse trash into your movie diet can be a nice break. The film takes the slow approach, showing the kids (Anne Winters and Zachary Arthur) going about their day as the camera and quick glimpses at new items only hint at the hilarious terror to ensue. The parents (Cage and Selma Blair) also go about their daily routine, though Cage’s character is clearly in the midst of a mid-life crisis that already has him on the verge of cracking. Then the town’s parents start showing up at the school like hordes of the undead. They reach out to their kids, with their teachers protecting them simply for how off the situation is, seemingly acting normal, until one mother slices her son’s throat with her keys.

Mom and Dad doesn’t go for showing the mass carnage, instead showing the “outbreak” as it were and then containing the horror inside the main family’s home once Cage and Blair really start to own the screen. While a more Dawn of the Dead-style film might’ve been fun, Mom and Dad gets to be a deeply and delightfully disturbing rendition of Home Alone.

It helps that films with this such tone—over the top being an understatement—are exactly what Cage has tailored for himself at this point in his career. He howls at the camera, barks as he chases his son, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He spews utter bullshit dialogue with a finesse that suggests he’s as self aware as he is actually insane. It’s wild to watch. Like, really wild.

But of course, films like this always have to find a spot to end and let the credits roll. Mom and Dad is thankfully very short, coming in at under 90 minutes, but the final scene fails to be creative, leaving us on an abrupt, dissatisfying note. This is hardly a film that had to tie all its loose ends or leave us feeling warm and fuzzy, but there had to be another more fulfilling option than the one chosen here. Otherwise, Mom and Dad manages to be a big dumb ride with a premise as over the top as they come. It’s a shut-your-brain-off romp that doesn’t do its audience any favors other than entertain. In this case, that’s enough. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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