Mom and Dad Review
Mom and Dad is a 2018 thriller about a teenage girl and her little brother who must survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own kids.
There’s no argument that Brian Taylor‘s latest kinetic rush of a movie, Mom and Dad is lacking style or energy. Like nearly every film the man has helmed, it goes all in and then some, seemingly gleeful in its full throttle approach to madness. The movie is a parable of sorts, perhaps more celebratory of its style and in-your-faceness than anything related to social commentary, but builds on a clever premise with an extremely dark and entertaining view of the world.
The very definition of dysfunctional, the Ryan family exists in suburban middle America eeking out suburban middle American lives. Brent (Nicolas Cage) is a man on the edge, relentlessly worn down by his stagnant averageness in a sea of banality. His wife Kendall (Selma Blair), clearly isolated, wants nothing more than to play the game as best she can and find her place. Their teen daughter Carly (Anne Winters) barely contains disdain for her lot in life and young Josh (Zackary Arthur) is just a little kid oblivious to the turmoil. All is as it normally is until one day, the ‘savaging’ arrives, an epidemic that affects parents, making them want to chase down and murder their children. Now Carly and Josh must try and stay alive in house of horrors while the world outside falls into calamity.
Mixing a bit of zombie mayhem with American Beauty, Mom and Dad packs a lot into its runtime, attempting to skewer some of the standards in the genre, and for much of it, does so, giving the old story a facelift. Not quite hitting the same level of satire as say Edgar Wright‘s Shaun of the Dead, this is a fair poke at the trappings of living in the ‘burbs, a common theme in film. The Ryan’s, at least superficially, have got it made, they in a nice home in a nice neighborhood, with healthy kids, a housekeeper and a couple of cars. Underneath of course, it all festers and like any in stories like this, we suspect things are going to collapse, however when it does, it’s not at all how things typically roll out.
Taylor, who wrote the screenplay, doesn’t offer reasons, only actions, and as such, spends a good deal of the film homaging tropes of the zombie genre with parents crowding around school gates and maternity wards, crazed and homicidal, though lacking the undead qualities of those hungry for brains. What’s best about this though is how Taylor often zips back in time, revealing deeper-seeded anxiety and distress in Brent and Kendall’s lives, the misgivings and regrets, the promising paths long left behind. These are some of the sharpest moments in the film and helps greatly in giving some broader context to the maliciousness that follows once the epidemic strikes.
There’s plenty of symbolism to it all, such as Brent’s handmade pool table, a work of art that serves to represent far more than it is, and Taylor uses fast cuts and ironic musical choices to punctuate with more than enough dark humor. Cage is, as expected, big and brash, which here actually works well, and both he and Blair embrace the lunacy with no restraints. However, the film ultimately lacks a larger message and runs out of momentum as the Ryans fight for dominance and survival in their once picturesque home. Still, there are some truly jarring moments and Taylor has some clever tricks up his sleeve. Style over substance sometimes can be fun.
Mom and Dad Review
Movie description: MOM AND DAD IS A 2018 THRILLER ABOUT A TEENAGE GIRL AND HER LITTLE BROTHER WHO MUST SURVIVE A WILD 24 HOURS DURING WHICH A MASS HYSTERIA OF UNKNOWN ORIGINS CAUSES PARENTS TO TURN VIOLENTLY ON THEIR OWN KIDS.
Director(s): Brian Taylor
Actor(s): Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters