Monday, October 22, 2012

Mother's Day

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman.
2010. Rated R, 112 minutes. 
Rebecca De Mornay 
Jaime King 
Frank Grillo 
Patrick John Flueger 
Shawn Ashmore
 Lyriq Bent 
Briana Evigan 
Deborah Ann Woll 
Warren Kole 
Kandyse McClure 
Tony Nappo 
Lisa Marcos

Group A is a friendly crowd. They’re having a boozy fun time at the house of Daniel (Grillo) and Beth (King) to celebrate his birthday. There are nine, in all. Aside from our hosts, there is the young couple, the black couple, the middle aged guy/early 20s chick couple and random single female friend. Everyone is hanging out in the basement. It’s a nice setup: pool table, bar, music on blast – you know the deal.

Group B is not so friendly. Even though they’re very big on family, actually they are family, they’re not the kind you want to hang around. In fact, they’ve just finished robbing a bank. Well, it was a job gone horribly wrong. Johnny (O’ Leary), the youngest of the three brothers is dying in the back seat of the getaway car from a gunshot wound. Ike (Flueger) is the eldest. He controls the other two, somewhat, but the current situation has him a bit frazzled. The middle brother Addley (Kole) is always frazzled. It quickly becomes evident that their mother is the one who really pulls the strings. So it only makes sense that the boys head home to Mother’s (De Mornay) house. They come screeching into the driveway, burst in through the door and shout loudly for their mom. Lo and behold, the boys haven’t been in contact with her in a few months and are unaware that she lost the house due to foreclosure. That’s right, this is where Daniel and Beth live and Group A is hanging out downstairs. Not surprisingly, a hostage situation breaks out and luckily for the boys, there is a doctor is in the house. When they finally get a hold of mom on the phone, she fills the boys in on the house situation and hurries over to get things under control. Of course, Group A realizes that once she walks into the door, things have gotten considerably worse for their chances of survival.

From the moment Rebecca De Mornay appears on the screen we’re pretty much mesmerized. As our main protagonist, she gives a brilliantly odd performance that makes us believe we’re finding out what it would be like if June Cleaver (google her, young’uns) were a homicidal sociopath. She plays the role with unwavering assertion and drops the clichés our own mothers said to us in between giving her boys orders to do some heinous things. It’s a deliciously over the top and wicked performance that transcends many of the film’s weaker qualities.

Yes, there are some weaker qualities. For characters other than Mother, the dialogue is pretty much recycled from just about every other home invasion flick. Once you know the tropes the various characters represent, what’s going to come out of their mouths is fairly predictable. This bleeds into the rest of the movie, rendering it a bit easy to figure. Most figurable of all is the trite horror movie ending/set up for a sequel.

Thankfully, the movie creates plenty of tension and draws us to the edge of our seats with one outrageous scenario after another. As the movie goes on, the craziness gradually increases until we’re very near the breaking point. The stakes continuously grow as does the violence. Yes, it’s plenty violent and graphically so. Nothing less is to be expected from the same people heavily involved in the Saw franchise. So yeah, this isn’t for everyone.

Mother’s Day also manages to be fun. That’s because there is a thread of very dark comedy running all the way through the movie. It displays the kind of twisted sense of humor that only people with a twisted sense of humor will appreciate. This includes it functioning as a nasty little slice of recession era angst. It’s a remake of an old Troma movie from 1980 of the same name. I haven’t seen that one, but this may make me seek it out.

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