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Movie Review: Mother’s Day

May 10, 2012
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In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s my review of the aptly titled horror flick Mother’s Day.

Looking for the perfect film to watch with mom this weekend?  I assure you, this is not it. Well, unless your mom is like me, and seeks out any depraved movie she can get her hands on. In that case, Mother’s Day is perfect.  It made its debut at Fantastic Fest 2010 in Austin, Texas, and there was plenty of buzz around it.  With Darren Lynn Bousman (the Saw franchise, Repo! The Genetic Opera) at the helm, I was anxious to see this project. Unfortunately, I was unable to get into the midnight screening. The fact that I got to casually chat with Bousman before the film really rubbed salt in the wound. As far as I know, the film never got a proper theatrical release after its initial festival run, but that is water under the bridge. The film is now available on DVD for our viewing pleasure.

Mother’s Day is a loose remake of a 1980 film by the same name. I’ve not seen the original, but apparently it takes place in the woods.  Some nubile young women who are camping encounter a batshit crazy family trying to impress their mother with some unsavory acts. The remake takes place in modern times, and the woods have been replaced with a house that “Mother” (Rebecca De Mornay) recently lost due to a foreclosure. Beth (Jaime King) and Daniel (Frank Grillo) are the unfortunate souls who bought the house out of foreclosure, having no inkling of the history of the house.

The two are hosting a modest housewarming party, with their closest friends in attendance. Beth seems tense and sad, and Daniel is on edge. Meanwhile, Mother’s boys are fleeing a botched bank robbery, and one of them is critically wounded. Their only plan is to return to their house, hoping that Mother can fix the mess. Imagine their surprise (and rage) when they discover some new owners have moved into their home. You can see how things might get a little awkward.

At first it feels like it is going to be a by-the-numbers home invasion movie, but the story goes into some unexpected directions. By the end of the hellish evening, loyalties have been tested, secrets have been divulged and mass carnage abounds. Mother makes her grand entrance early in the film, and she is the epitome of a sociopath. De Mornay is terrific as the icy matriarch of the Koffin clan. She’s a refreshing change for this sort of role. Generally in these types of movies, the matriarch and /or patriarchs are portrayed as crazed rednecks that are completely over the top (see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). De Mornay Mother is refined, if even a bit elegant. She is well dressed and outwardly appears normal.  De Mornay plays Mother as calm, cool and collected. She can file her nails while she hears shrieks of terror emanating from the room next door. That demeanor is downright unnerving, and makes Mother even more frightening. She is a memorable villainess.

This is vastly different from the Saw movies, but Bousman’s fingerprints are all over the movie. Characters are given the chance to choose who will be the sacrificial lamb in several situations, which brings out the worst in the “friends” when their survival instincts kick into high gear. You’ll also see quite a few actors who have appeared in various Saw movies (Lyric Bent, Tony Nappo, Jessie Rusu, J. LaRuse). And for all you fellas waiting for the next season of True Blood so you can get your Deborah Ann Woll fix, you can catch her here as the meek and conflicted youngest sibling in the Koffin clan. She doesn’t seem all that enthused to follow in her brothers’ footsteps.

I’ve always had difficulty putting horror movies up against other genres. I judge them on a different curve than I do other movies. I never expect them to be high-quality masterpieces, and this is no exception. But that is not why I watch horror movies, and I have to say that Mother’s Day was a lot of fun, and kept me guessing throughout. It’s a solid little B thriller that’s worth a watch, especially since you can rent it now.

Rating 3.5/5 Watch the trailer below.

Mother’s Day is rated “R”. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. Written by Scott Milam. Starring Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Shawn Ashmore, Deborah Ann Woll, Frank Grillo.

 

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