Mother’s Day
dir Darren Lynn Bousman
scr Scott Milam
prd Brett Ratner, Richard Saperstein, Jay Stern, Brian Witten
with Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Shawn Ashmore, Frank Grillo, Deborah Ann Woll, Warren Kole, Patrick Flueger, Matt O'Leary, Briana Evigan, Lisa Marcos, Tony Nappo, Lyriq Bent
release US 1.Apr.11, UK 10.Jun.11
10/Canada 1h52
Mother's Day
Don't even think about it: King and Flueger

demornay ashmore evigan
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Mother's Day This remake of the 1980 horror movie shifts the genre from a mad backwoods family thriller into torture porn. It's a deliberately sadistic movie with a strong misogynist undercurrent. And it has no discernible point.

Beth and Daniel (King and Grillo) have just moved into their new home, and invite a group of friends over for a housewarming party. But things turn nasty very quickly when three crazed criminals burst into the house. The Koffin brothers — ringleader Ike (Flueger), brutal Addley (Kole) and injured baby brother Johnny (O'Leary) — used to live in this house. Soon their Mama (De Mornay) and sister Lydia (Woll) arrive, and they take the partiers hostage, horrifically tormenting them while trying to gather cash to make a run for Canada.

Shifting the action from an isolated campsite to a suburban house might have added an element of everyday menace, but the filmmakers never find anything we can engage with. The movie is slickly designed and shot, and played straight by a gifted cast despite the thinly developed characters. But everything's so manipulative that we're immediately annoyed. Constant attempts to wring emotion are appalling: everyone in this film is a violent, grotesque idiot. And this includes the victims.

It's also one of those films that quickly sidelines men as hapless while objectifying women, putting them in harm's way and blaming them for every nasty thing that happens. As the story progresses, there are revelations of an affair, escape attempts, a woman's head is set on fire and people are attacked with guns, knives and other handy implements. Meanwhile, there are pathetic attempts to make us feel sorry for the hostages, and also for Mama's children, who have clearly been groomed for violence their whole lives.

But all of this is so breathtakingly shallow that we see it for what it is: a way to stretch a series of graphic scenes of torture and murder out for nearly two long hours. By about the halfway point, we realise that there essentially isn't a plot at all and we cease to care if anyone survives the ordeal. So the climax and coda feel especially heartless.

cert 18 themes, language, strong violence 12.May.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall