Mom and Dad is the latest film directed by Brian Taylor and stars Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair as the titular Mom and Dad. Taylor is best known for his collaborations with director Mark Neveldine. The two of them directed the Crank films starring Jason Statham, and the science fiction film Gamer, starring Micheal C Hall. In his collaborations with Neveldine, Brian Taylor has developed a hyperkinetic visual style and a darkly humorous, playfully offensive tone that treats high concepts with a trashy B-movie sensibility.
Mom and Dad is a horror comedy in which the nation’s parents are, for reasons that remain unexplained, suddenly overcome with an insatiable need to murder their own offspring.
We are first introduced to a wealthy suburban family bickering over breakfast. As the film continues Taylor hints at the simmering rage, disappointment and suburban ennui of the parents. A thrash metal flashback shows a younger Brent (Cage) doing doughnuts in his dads car, his topless wife to be straddling his lap. Another shows Kendall, realizing her children need her less, tries and fails to get back into her old job. Kendall’s friend expresses her dissatisfaction with life over smoothies, after dance aerobics. The aerobics sequence itself is fun and typical of the director’s idiosyncratic style.
After building tension the film eventually explodes into a frenzy of violence. A riot at the school sees a father black bag suffocate his daughter and a mother attacks her son’s face with keys. A scene involving a mother, her newborn and a Go-pro camera stands out in particular. It also makes great use of the song “It must have been love” By Roxette.
The young people handle their roles well but this film belongs to the adults. Nicolas Cage is doing peak Nicolas Cage here. This film has him grunting, barking, shrieking and bursting out into fits of rage, hysterically trying to slaughter his two children. Selma Blair is great too, as the more measured psychopath of the two. The mania itself is seemingly acting as some sort of catharsis for nation’s parents on the whole, bringing together otherwise passionless couples in a fever of violence. Taylor’s love of off key camera angles and ADHD editing, give the extreme violence an almost surreal, cartoonish quality. This is fast, aggressive, cocaine cinema and I really quite enjoyed it.
Nathaniel N Jackman