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|Mom & Dad|
dir-scr Brian Taylor
prd Tim Zajaros
with Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert Cunningham, Lance Henriksen, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Olivia Crocicchia, Samantha Lemole, Joe Reitman, Rachel Melvin, Sharon Gee
release US 19.Jan.18, UK 2.Mar.18
The parent trap: Arthur and Winters
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Writer-director Brian Taylor adds a constant stream of deadpan wit to this lively suburban horror. This is a boisterous movie that charges through its story without taking any prisoners, eliciting laughs and grimaces in equal measure. And while playing with the larger parent-child themes, the film's premise is so gonzo that it can't help but keep the audience gripped.
Brent and Kendall (Cage and Blair) have created a warm family unit with rebellious teen Carly (Winters) and cheeky younger son Josh (Arthur). But a contagion is sweeping the country, turning parents violently against their children. As the situation escalates, Carly and Josh run for their lives with some help from Carly's classmate Damon (Cunningham), whose abusive father perhaps doesn't seem that different. Meanwhile, Brent and Kendall can't understand these new urges they have to destroy the young people who have stolen their names and identities, leaving them as merely "Mom" and "Dad".
From the superbly insinuating 70s-style opening titles, the film is a riotous assault on family-friendly movie sensibilities. A tickle attack plays like a serial murder, and every tiny insult is like a death threat. Teens push the boundaries of surliness, ironically right in the middle of a school lesson on planned obsolescence. When real nastiness breaks out, the camerawork and editing are jarring and unclear, but effectively ramp up the horror. And from the start we know a twist is on its way, because Brent's parents (Henriksen and Frank) are coming for dinner.
Performances match the film's tonal sensibilities, balancing high-energy mayhem with an intriguingly sympathetic undercurrent of realism. Cage is having a ball, mixing his nice guy persona with his more distinctive brand of over-the-top scene-chomping. Blair is also terrific as the frazzled wife and mother trying to hold things together while seeking a little bit of excitement in her life. And Winters and Arthur are superb as believable, likeable kids fighting for their lives.
The film is packed with snappy references, from the snowy TV screens that seemingly set off the savagery to the hilarious choice of pop songs that accompany the mayhem. There are constant moments that make us recoil from the screen, and even a wicked comment on domestic gun violence. Sure, the grisliness might be too gleeful for some viewers, and the more subtle aspects of the premise are kind of abandoned along the way. But this is a riotously vicious thriller that's likely to develop a cult following among both parents and children.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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