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Mom And Dad (dir. Taylor)

Image: Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair in Mom and Dad [Source: IMDB]

 ★☆☆☆☆

It’s the empty threat you never paid attention to as your angry parents exclaimed “We could kill you”, but in this dark thriller comedy a mass hysteria is caused when an effect of unknown origins turns parents on their own children. A teenage girl and her younger brother must survive as their parents try to take out the very people they brought into the world.

Director: Brian Taylor. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters [15]

This movie is one that is filled with expectations, just having Nicolas Cage within 10 feet of this concept is enough to give any fan a sly smile. Mom and Dad starts out well, it gives us good ground on the characters and has some fun with the foreshadowing of what is to come even if a few directional choices are forced, but as we get into the thick of the movie things quickly start to unravel and the misjudgments and tonally askew problems start to reveal themselves.

Thankfully Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, the rest of the cast and the director seem to be having fun with the concept of the film and it pays off in subtle ways, Nicolas Cage is his usual zany, chaotic self with overacted menace and Selma Blair gives a convincing motherly role gone wrong. Brian Taylor directs the actors and the set pieces with surprising precision, action and movement around the scenes feel natural and unforced, this makes the chaotic violence more uneasy and gripping. However, Taylor loses his grip on the concept and tone of the movie before it even lifts off. Taylor seems unable to play off the intended laugh out loud moments as comedic, instead opting for putting juxtaposing music over the scenes giving them a lighter tone but makes them no less disturbing. There is nothing akin to the jet black comedy of Fargo, American Psycho or Four Lions, where these films succeed in making hilarious observations and social commentary in absurdly dark manners, Mom and Dad barely makes a whimper.

It’s because of this effort to attempt dark comedy but failing, results in the more tense and horrific aspects of the film playing off more like light-hearted uneasement and the drama or comedy go absolutely nowhere. The editing seems to want this to happen also, with odd editing choices in cutting away from tense scenes to fill in unwanted and unneeded backstory for characters. One or two of these cutaway scenes have no purpose or effect at all and one even seems to just fill the purpose of having Nicolas Cage smash something and act a little cooky. Leaving Mom and Dad in the limbo of genre where it sits isolated between comedy, drama, horror and thriller and never connecting with any of them. It’s a movie that says nothing, does nothing and excites nothing.

Mom and Dad has its moments of amusement but it’s nowhere near enough to label this movie as anything more than a mild thrill ride. It’s remarkably uninspired and while the concept is an interesting one, there is little substance to help this movie stand on its own two feet.  It lacks laughs, thrills, drama, commentary or fun and just having Nicolas Cage go full comic relief crazy does not save this movie from its limbo.

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