The Horror Honeys: Mom and Dad: Classic Grindhouse with Modern Horror Sparkle

Mom and Dad: Classic Grindhouse with Modern Horror Sparkle

A WEB EXCLUSIVE New Release Review with Head Honey Linnie

All photos courtesy of Momentum Pictures
Mom and Dad (2018)

It is nearly impossible to recreate the feeling that is generated from watching a classic grindhouse film. Most of the movies that have tried do so end up doing it to varying success (drawing on the films that made up Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse as an example), but if they succeed, it is always because they directly copy the style that grindhouse is known for. Extreme violence or sex, bad cinematography, exaggerated acting, and post-production tricks to make the movie look older than it is are hallmarks of "modern grindhouse." But exactly because the filmmakers are trying so hard to mimic a bygone style, it's hard to do at all, let alone do in a unique way.

Which is what makes it such a delightful surprise that Brian Taylor's Mom and Dad is so damn exceptional.

Selma Blair as Kendall Ryan
The Story: With no explanation, an epidemic sweeps across the globe, causing parents to attack and murder their children. Carly (Anne Winters) and Josh Ryan (Zackary Arthur) must fight to survive constant and brutal attacks from their parents Brent (Nicholas Cage) and Kendall (Selma Blair) as the rest of society deteriorates around them.

That's it. There are no commentaries on society at large, no lofty messages, and no third act scientists discovering what is causing the attacks. Mom and Dad is just a movie about parents losing their collective shit and killing the hell out of their offspring. And that is what makes it so much fun. Taylor's script takes its narrative cues from grindhouse cinema by offering a constant, and satisfying, barrage of unexpected violence (a style he honed on films like Crank and Gamer), and it works beautifully. With an ideal runtime under an hour and a half, not a moment is wasted, and that is what keeps the viewer engaged, amused, and rooting for the main characters, on both sides.

Zackary Arthur as Josh Ryan and Anne Winters as Carly Ryan
Nicolas Cage as Brent Ryan
The style of Mom and Dad is one of its greatest achievements, embracing everything that made grindhouse great while utilizing modern filmmaking techniques. By not overly relying on the gimmicks that many directors use as a crutch while paying homage to grindhouse, Taylor makes Mom and Dad visually sleek, but stylistically classic. From the opening credits to the shock of an ending, this is a film crafted as a tribute without being an impersonation.

It helps that the performances in Mom and Dad are exactly as balls-out insane as they need to be, courtesy entirely of Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. If you've been missing a Category 5, Wicker Man level of crazy from Nic Cage, you get it from him here, and more; the trailer doesn't even begin to do him justice. Combined with the more measured but just as glorious dramatics from Blair, and Mom and Dad becomes a magnificent storm of psychosis, but one you can relish. The performances from Arthur and Winters as the children, as well as Robert T. Cunningham as Carly's boyfriend Damon, are excellent as well, and they never lapse into stereotypical "victim" territory. Thanks to an extremely tight and well-written script, there isn't a false-note in the film, even when it is unbelievable nonsense.

Selma Blair as Kendall Ryan

When you factor in the excellent soundtrack and synth score (good luck enjoying "It Must Have Been Love" ever again), Mom and Dad becomes the perfect film for hardcore horror fans. It's funny, it's brutal, it's crazy, and it doesn't outstay its welcome. This is a movie that will delight genre lovers for years to come.

Head Honey Rating: 5 All-Saws out of 5

Nicolas Cage Performance Spectrum Rating: Because of this movie, I have been forced to create a new Spectrum rating. Mom and Dad rates a 6, henceforth known as 'Polar Vortex Cage,' in which two disparate storm systems meet and cause absolute, beautiful chaos.