Nic is back! It’s true that, in my eyes, he never left. But the consensus generally is that Nicolas Cage is washed up. But Mom and Dad is the best vehicle for his particular talents that he’s had in years. From half of the team that brought you Crank and Crank: High Voltage, Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad is gross, blackly comic, satirical, and awesome.
The whole premise of the film is crazy but just roll with it. What would happen if instead of having an urge to protect their children, parents suddenly wanted to kill their children? Depending on whether or not you enjoyed Crank, you’re probably thinking Brian Taylor was either the best choice or the worst choice for this material. But after watching it, I’m certain that only his manic style could work with this film and keep it from being tasteless. Hell, it’s actually really funny.
The film follows the Ryan family as the world begins to fall apart. Nic Cage and Selma Blair are Brent and Kendall – a middle-aged couple who aren’t entirely satisfied with their lives. There’s a lot of talking about where it went wrong, how did they get so old – as they struggle to bond with their kids. There is a comment in there, some satire about the generation, but at its heart it’s a gruesome exploitation film.
Once things start escalating, the film becomes Dawn of the Dead or World War Z as one character puts it – but the zombies are your own parents. Parents run and trample, bludgeon, or strangle their children. And it’s all shot with same manic, kinetic style that just looks fantastic. Throughout this though, the film manages to avoid outright gore. Taylor knows when to not show something, so don’t expect children being torn to pieces on screen. It’s not what I’d call tasteful, but it does what a good horror should and leaves just enough to the imagination of the audience.
The second half of the film is very much balls-to-the-wall fighting in the Ryan household. People are bludgeoned, punched, stabbed, shot, gassed, blown up, and one grisly scene involves a coat hanger. This is where Cage and Blair can let loose. Blair as the restrained, calm, motherly killer, and Cage as the hyper psychopath screaming and mugging. It’s art as far as I’m concerned and the only downside is that the film is so short – clocking in at roughly 85 minutes.
The action is broken up by flashbacks to ‘before’. This means you can get an idea of what the family was like before it happened. Which is good because you get the dynamic and aren’t just watching two-dimensional characters beat the crap out of each other. And the film strongly hints that not everything was kosher before the turn. Maybe these psychopaths aren’t far off the real people. Brent certainly seems to be harbouring some resentment, and it touches upon these taboo thoughts of a parent not really liking their kids.
The standout scene is when one character gives birth, and then instantly turns on the baby as doctors and midwives protect it from this suddenly manic woman. And it’s all set to the sounds of ‘It Must Have Been Love’ by Roxette. It’s harrowing but funny, and underneath it might very well be saying something more. It’s Mom and Dad in a nutshell.
I’m a huge Nicolas Cage fan and I’m a bit giddy at having seen him on the big screen. In 2018! So maybe there’s some bias. But I still recommend Mom and Dad, even if you just watch it on VOD later in the year. It’s silly but it’s the best damn Nicolas Cage performance we’ve had in years, AND the closest we’re getting to Crank 3. It may not fully realise the concept it sets up, and not everyone will enjoy the style or OTT Cage antics, but there is definitely nothing else like it.
Reviewed by Jack