19th January (US VOD), 9th March (UK Cinemas)
A teenage girl and her little brother must survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own kids.
Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters
A mysterious signal is sending parents crazy and forcing them to turn on their own children in a murderous rage. Teenager Carly Ryan (Anne Winters) must take every step to protect her younger brother Josh (Zackary Arthur) from the wrath of their mother Kendall (Selma Blair) and father Brent (Nicolas Cage) who have succumbed to the unknown illness.
Bolting out of the gate at 300 miles per hour, Mom & Dad begins at a frenetic pace with a slick, retro 70s grindhouse style and with its tongue firmly in cheek. Character establishment is brisk yet effective, painting the Ryan’s as a typically dysfunctional suburban family. Its early success is undoubtedly due to the strong chemistry between all players, especially Blair and Cage.
In a completely genius move of casting, Cage has his first opportunity since Face/Off to unleash his lunacy for a legitimate reason. Mr Cage has become somewhat of a laughing stock due to his uncanny ability to overact situations that simply do not require it, but here this talent is a perfect fit. Who else could possibly be equally terrifying and hilarious as Cage is in a scene that involves chasing a child under the age of 10 around the house with a kitchen knife?
It’s these kinds of scenes where Mom & Dad shines; the violence is so over-the-top and preposterous that it’s impossible not to laugh at what is a terrifying scenario. It’s a smart twist on the tired zombie genre too, where the victims are targeted and specific rather than the usual free-for-all.
Mom & Dad isn’t without its issues though, and its biggest comes from one of its positives. The energetic pace seen from the opening act is unfortunately not maintained, and there’s a noticeable sag in the middle as Cage and Blair reflect on where their lives went wrong. A shameless display of Cage frenzy against a pool table is included to keep things moving, but the midlife crisis talk between the couple seems both out of place and unnecessary, as it’s never fully factored into the bigger picture.
Blair’s character is an anomaly too, as there are many decisions she makes that are senseless (even for a premise like this) or are left completely unexplained. Some are critical to the narrative so stick out as baffling more than others, but this isn’t a film that is stern on logic.
The positives massively outweigh its shortcomings though and thanks to a wonderfully unhinged turn by Cage as well as a smart take on a tired subgenre, Mom & Dad is twisted midnight movie perfection.
Crazy Cage makes a welcome return
Smart take on the zombie genre
Doesn't hold back on its violence
Begins to make social commentary on midlife suburbian living but doesn't go anywhere with it
Blair's character makes some questionable decisions that are never explained but affect the plot