Millenial-bashing reaches a gory new level in Brian Taylor’s latest horror/comedy
What with the looming cloud of a Brexit we never voted for, houses priced way out of our grasp, and a new John Cleese sitcom on the BBC, it can sometimes feel like our parents will stop at nothing to make our lives a misery. The next logical step can only see them snap and try to KILL US with their bare hands.
Well, that’s the premise of Brian Taylor’s new horror/comedy Mom And Dad at least. It’s set in a picture-perfect anony-American suburb, where the Ryans live in a beautiful house with a Chinese cleaner and one of those massive breakfast islands that only seem to exist in American movies. One day, without any warning, all of the parents in the country gain a sudden bloodlust that can only be satiated if they murder their own kids. Talking heads on rolling news channels speculate that it might be a form of chemical warfare that has inverted the parental instinct to protect their offspring, but it’s a mystery why Mom And Dad are suddenly targeting their darlings. It’s a dark millennial dystopia, a socio-political metaphor for the way our generation has been dumped to the bottom of the pile.
That might be over-thinking it slightly and Mom And Dad certainly doesn’t pause for thinkpiece introspection. Clocking in at under an hour and a half, it’s a big, dumb, blood-spurting spectacle, and it’s all the more enjoyable for it. There’s gore by the Instant Pot-load and plenty of innocuous household items put to inventively murderous use. It really did have us feeling guilty for laughing at so much of it, but it’s genuinely, peeping-through-your-fingers hilarious.
Much of this is down to the excellent cast. Anne Winters plays the snarky, eye-rolling daughter, Carly, who early on in the film snorts at her Mom’s request for her to “stop Facebooking for just one minute”. The bane of her existence is played by the iconic Selma Blair, who is brilliant at effortlessly switching between twee, yoga-Mom and dead-eyed, flesh-hungry killer. When she’s not attempting to pulverise her firstborn with a meat tenderiser, they both brilliantly capture that angst-ridden stage of the mother-child relationship, when the only time they actually spend in each other’s company is in the front seats of the car as they’re carted to sleepovers, which in themselves are usually ruses for alcopop-driven fingering. Come on, you were once that ungrateful sack of hormones too. We all were.
And then there was, of course, Nicolas Cage, who plays the eponymous Dad, Brent. There is the meme-laden expectation nowadays that Nicolas Cage should do full Nicolas Cage at any given opportunity, which he duly does in Mom and Dad. However, it feels completely right for this movie and not just Nicolas Cage doing Nicolas Cage just for the sake of doing Nicolas Cage. Anyway, he’s as manically mesmerising as you’d expect, all American Dream clichés warped through his uncanny valley expressions and lumbering gait. There’s a scene in which he has a midlife meltdown at the futility of his materialistic life, his beer-belly hefting around as he takes a sledgehammer to his man-cave.
And then just like that, the already paper-thin premise shudders to a halt with no tidy resolution. There are some, probably your parents, who might find this abrupt conclusion irritatingly ironic and the whole film an exercise in gratuitous violence, but when it’s this fun, who really cares? That’s the millennial way of thinking though, isn’t it. Don’t kill us.
Mom & Dad is out on 9th March .