Mom and Dad

Year: 2017
Production Co: Armory Films
Director: Brian Taylor
Writer: Brian Taylor
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Lance Henriksen, Marilyn Dodds Frank

Rarely has there been a better blend of star and movie. It's as if Nicolas Cage has watched 'Nicolas Cage losing his shit' on YouTube and decided he might as well embrace it. He's more off the chain than you've ever seen him and it's got a quality that's both car crash-fascinating and beautiful.

It's never established exactly what the inciting incident is, whether the Earth goes through the tail of a comet like in Maximum Overdrive /Trucks or it's a toxin released from plants like in The Happening, but suddenly parents start turning on their children, trying to murder them by any means at their disposal.

We see this disturbing turn of events through the eyes of the Brent family. Teenage daughter Carly (Anne Winters) just wants to hang out with her African American boyfriend Damon, a guy she hopes her parents accept one day. Preteen Josh (Zachary Arthur) is excited at the prospect of being allowed to stay home from school for a day as long as housekeeper Sun-Yi is home too.

Kendall (Selma Blair) is barely holding on in life, trying to stay supple with a gym class but fearing she's wasting her time and trying to stay connected with her daughter even though the latter isn't interested in a relationship any more, and Brent (Cage) is a businessman who has to wear a suit and sit at a desk but pines for lost youth, which we see in a quick flashback clip of him doing doughnuts in a souped up Trans-Am with a topless girl straddling him.

Carly goes to school, hanging out with her friend Riley and looking forward to meeting Damon later. But with a wave of static over TVs and radios, chaos descends. A mob of parents converge at the school gates, demanding to be let in and with apparently bloodthirsty intentions. The cops try to hold them off but it's not long before they storm the gates, each parent chasing down his or her own offspring, and a bloodbath ensues.

Carly and Riley run to Riley's house where her own mother strangles her to death, just as disinterested in hurting Carly as she was determined to slaughter her own daughter. Carly flees for home, unaware that Damon has already fought off and killed his own father, and that Sun-Yi has brutally killed her own young daughter right in front of Josh.

Kendall has rushed to hospital where her sister is giving birth, but is horrified when she tries to suffocate the baby to death, having to be restrained by the nurses and doctor and screaming in rage, trying to get her hands on her brand new child.

Horrified, Kendall rushes home to protect her own kids from what's going on, unaware that proximity to them will generate the same impulse in her. Brent has come home too and Carly takes Josh and only just escapes into the basement where they lock themselves in, their maniacal parents trying anything to get inside and kill them too, from a power saw to the gas supply.

By this time you've forgotten that Carly was pissed off at her mother in the beginning because she had plans that night but had to cancel them because her and Josh's grandparents were coming for dinner. But when the doorbell rings and Brent opens the door to his elderly mother and father Mel and Barbara (Lance Henriksen and Marylin Dodds Frank), they smile sweetly before attacking him with pepper spray and a pocket knife.

By this time Josh and Carly are out of the basement and trying to leave the house, so you're left with a scene that's as horrifying as it is slapstick funny of Brent chasing Josh around the garage in rage while Mel chases Brent just as hatefully.

The subtext of the whole thing is fairly obvious. It's the rage of middle agers who wanted to lead cool, exciting lives but have found themselves in their forties or beyond and consumed with property and possessions while their kids get ever more distant.

A flashback scene that comes two thirds in of Brent building a snooker table in the basement even though he doesn't like snooker and then destroying it violently when Kendall calls him out on it, is pretty self-evident. In another, he's relating how the young man screeching around in the Trans-Am with the nubile young girl was him, leaving him wondering what happened to that fun-loving kid.

But the editing, script and at-times over the top violence make it a very black comedy as well as a nifty little horror movie. And if there's ever a a sequel compilation to Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit, more than one moment out of this film belongs in it. The movie has as much personality and Grand Guignol panache as his delivery does, and it's a hoot.

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