Mom and Dad
by Hope Madden
I brought you into this world, I can take you out of it.
It’s a joke, of course, an idle threat. Right?
Maybe so, but deep down, it does speak to the unspeakable tumult of emotions and desires that come with parenting. Wisely, a humorous tumult is exactly the approach writer/director Brian Taylor brings to his horror comedy Mom and Dad.
Horror films have been coming up with excuses to exorcise our forbidden desire to kill our own children for decades, mostly with little-seen cult films like It’s Alive or The Children or Cooties. In those films, the children themselves become monsters and the adults have no choice, you see.
Taylor (co-director of the Crank series) has a different take. In what is basically a long and very bloody metaphor for a mid-life crisis, parents the world over simply give in to an unspecified but urgent need to kill their own offspring.
It’s an epidemic picture, a zombie film without the zombies. Which doesn’t sound that funny, I’ll grant you, but Taylor and a game cast indulge in many of the same family tensions that fuel most sitcoms. They just take it one or two or three demented steps further.
So why do you want to see it? Because of the unhinged Nicolas Cage. Not just any Nic Cage—the kind who can convincingly sing the Hokey Pokey while demolishing furniture with a sledge hammer.
This is one of those Nic Cage roles: Face/Off meets Wild at Heart meets Vampire’s Kiss. He’s weird, he’s explosive and he is clearly enjoying himself.
Selma Blair lands the unenviable role of sharing the screen with Cage, but she doesn’t try to match him as much as keep him focused: they do have a job to accomplish, you know. The result is a fascinating picture of marital teamwork, actually. Good for them.
Taylor’s frantic pace and hiccupping camera mirror Cage’s lunatic energy, and clever writing toys with our expectations while delivering a surprisingly transgressive film.
Others have done it better. (I’m looking at you, Babadook.) But this may be the most amusing way to spend 90 minutes watching people try to murder their own children.