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MOM AND DAD Review

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Every once in a while you need to let some rage out, we all do. It’s very cathartic and as it turns out, necessary. I have to wonder if Mom and Dad was director Brian Taylor’s own personal therapy session. Make no mistake, this is purely considered a “guilty pleasure” kind of film. The subject matter is a bit garish and not, however, for everyone. The premise is this: An unknown signal emitted through the airwaves triggers a murderous rage in parents to kill their own kids. Right away the filmmaker is going to have to walk a fine line considering the subject matter. Does he succeed? Kind of.

Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair headline this film as the title characters and I have to say, are perfect in their respected roles. The pair have two children, one high school age, the other grade school. Anyone who is a parent will probably recognize some of the drama that occurs in the family’s every day life, even as exaggerated as it is here.

From a story telling perspective, we’re given the bare minimum as far as backstory goes. The movie doesn’t just jump into the chaos, it takes a bit of time to get there. It’s a shame that our would be protagonists, in this case the children, aren’t particularly sympathetic. The friend of the oldest daughter is even less so, she’s clearly a caricature of a bitchy friend and has the survival skills of a Friday the 13th counselor. When it hits the fan, their is very little to root for but you’re still along for the ride.

When the “event” happens to the people of the world (I presume), this is easily the most interesting part of the movie. The scene starts in the classroom and I couldn’t help but compare it to a Simpsons Halloween episode. Their is a slow build but when it blows up, it offers a genuinely frightening scene of dozens of parents crazily attacking their high school kids. Despite the R rating, nothing is explicitly shown mostly due to shakey cam and other quick cuts. This was definitely the right call as hearing the various news reports on tv painted a grizzly enough picture of what was happening across the country.

When the film focuses back to the main family at their home, it harkens back to the first Purge film in style and remains there for the rest of the running time. As a result, the pacing grinds to halt and in an 86 minute long movie, that’s a problem. One or two huge jumps in logic also burden the story, but at this point you know what you’ve signed on for. A few flashbacks help shake up the narrative, some done well, others so jarring they take you out of the movie.

Essentially Mom and Dad is a direct-to video kind of movie and I think the filmmakers were aware of this. Their are a few intense moments here and there but nothing over the line taste wise, though they tip toe near it once or twice.