J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mom and Dad: Filicide with Nic Cage

This film is like a poisoned slice of apple pie. Somehow, motherhood has been corrupted, as has fatherhood, right along with it. The how’s and why’s are a mystery, but for whatever reason, parents are caught up in a psychotic urge to murder their children. It is probably Trump’s fault, or maybe Brexit is to blame. Regardless, if you see your parents, run like mad in screenwriter-director Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad (trailer here) which opens this Friday in New York.

We can infer that staticky white noise infecting broadcast signals is to blame, but whether it is supernatural or terrorism—whose to say? It started while most kids were at school or sitting for their SATs, but it eventually exploded into a full-scale crisis. It only applies to parents and their direct spawn, so teachers and emergency personnel will do their best to protect the future generations, but it is hard to convince all those dumb kids to avoid the very people who have nurtured them all their lives.

The Ryans’ teen daughter Carly has been a bit of a pill lately, so she stands a good chance of being the final girl. Seeing the phenomenon affecting her friends’ parents, she scrambles home to protect her little brother Josh. Presumably, their dad Brent is still at work and their mother Kendall (man, are these ever some white names) is at the hospital with her mega-pregnant sister (that situation gets extremely messed up), but both will come racing home with murderous intentions.

Probably the evilest and most effective aspect of M&D is the way Taylor slyly hints that the sinister whatsit only amplifies dark urges that were already buried deep within every over-worked, under-appreciated parent. He doesn’t spend any time on the mayhem device, because he doesn’t need to. It is just the push the Ryans have been waiting for.

Finally, M&D is the film that fully and necessarily capitalizes on Nic Cage’s bat-scat crazy acting style. He shows Brent Ryan’s dark side, in all its twitchy, seething fury. While Cage goes up, over, and out, Selma Blair is severely restrained, repressed, and resentfully self-denying as Ms. Ryan. When they get together and go crazy, they make quite a pair. However, all bets are off when the great Lance Henriksen shows up as Grandpa Ryan.


M&D is unrepentantly violent and subversive, to its unending credit. Frustratingly, Taylor leaves a few obvious avenues unexplored, like what happens to parents who adopted? Maybe that will be grist for a sequel. Regardless, the film is way more psychologically believable and compelling than a lot of folks will want to admit. Highly recommended for fans of horror films and Nic Cage tantrums, Mom and Dad opens this Friday (1/19) in New York, at the Cinema Village.

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