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Mom and Dad (TIFF Review)

Mom and Dad (TIFF Review)
09.15.2017by: Chris Bumbray
8 10

PLOT: An inexplicable phenomena results in parents being uncontrollably compelled to murder their children.

REVIEW: MOM AND DAD marks the solo directorial debut of Brian Taylor, one half of the famous Neveldine/Taylor directorial duo, which brought us such crazed classics as the CRANK series and GAMER. Despite a presumably lower budget then their last outing as a team, GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE, Taylor’s made a demented mini-masterpiece that brought down the house at TIFF’s Midnight Madness, and will no doubt delight Nicolas Cage fans, who’ll get to see their hero totally unleashed in a vehicle that’s as lovably mad as its star.

The hook is great - with suburban kids being hunted and killed by their parents. Like in CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE, there are some cuts to newscasts that explain the action a bit, with this apparently being the result of a terror plot to, in effect, wipe out the west by simply having them butcher the next generation. Talking head cameos include, among others, a hilariously deadpan Dr. Oz, and Bokeem Woodbine as a murderous dad who, while knowing what he did was bad, can’t quite bring himself to express anything but glee at having killed his child.

This, obviously, makes it a tough prospect for those that like a more straightforward vehicle, but hardcore aficionados will dig the way Taylor goes all in, exploiting the premise more for laughs than pathos. You’re either on-board or you’re not, but Taylor paces it like a roller-coaster, running an ultra-tight eighty minutes. It’s packed with action, as kids Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur try to piece together what’s happening when their peers start getting picked up by their folks, with us counting the seconds until parents Cage and Selma Blair get home from work to start the hunt.

Both manage to convey some sympathy, although Cage plays his dad part with a twinkle in his eye, making it clear right-off-the-bat, maybe he’s not the most stable guy (shown by a flashback when he rips apart a brand new pool table because he can’t get it level). As his wife, Blair is initially more low-key, as she herself experiences the phenomena in a classic scene where she tries to stop his sister from killing her newly delivered baby (scored to Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love”) and rushes home because, well, there’s killing to be done and she can’t quite explain why.

It all ads up to a bonkers nuts finale, as Mom and Dad try everything they can to kill the surprisingly resourceful little ones, with Taylor leaving no taboo unexploited, including the idea of kids using firearms. It’s hard-R carnage, and gets even crazier in a last minute twist that features a perfectly cast cameo by Lance Henriksen, perfectly trading on his notoriety.

TIFF’s Midnight Madness really was the ideal place to see it, and hopefully someone will pick it up and give it some theatrical play, as it’s a midnight “let’s get trashed and see a movie” epic if I’ve ever seen one. It proves Nicolas Cage isn’t afraid to double-down on the crazy, and in Taylor, he’s found the right guy to bring out the best in him.

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