Mother’s Day (2010)
(18) Running Time: 112 minutes
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer: Scott Milam
Starring: Rebecca De Mornay, Jamie King, Shawn Ashmore ,Briana Evigan
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Considering I have been talking about Mother’s Day for sometime now, and the fact that director Darren Lynn Bousman has made one of my most eagerly awaited film of the year, 11.11.11, I was expecting pretty good things from Mother’s Day. Not only was I about to get to see Rebecca De Mornay back and in cruel form, I was also going to get to see just what the director of Saw 2,3 and 4 could do to such a young and attractive cast. Now, that may sound a bit unhinged to you, maybe not, but every now and again I do enjoy a good old torture and violence yarn in the horror genre, and the idea of a seriously deranged Mother and her family of sadistic criminals holding a group of attractive youngsters hostage was just too good to miss. So, did the film deliver on what was promised in the trailer? The simple answer is no. I will now attempt to explain…
In all honesty, there is not a lot of plot details to go through with you here, and how the film stretched to almost two hours is a miracle. That is not to say this is a bad film, far from it, but more often than not it felt a little to safe and the bad guys felt a little too forced. See, in, say, the remake of I Spit on Your Grave, a new, fresh and hip cast managed to become cold and actually quite scary and very uncomfortable to watch and you really felt for the victim. Here, the bad guys have their moments, but sadly it does feel staged at times, and this quickly diminishes any real threat or menace. Rebecca De Mornay, on the other hand, is exceptional. Her sons are on the run after a job went wrong, and one of them has been shot and needs medical assistance. The safest place they want to get to is the old family home and, upon arrival, find a group of eight friends having a bit of a house warming party. We met the eight friends earlier, the usual bunch getting pissed with the lads oggling the ladies and the ladies not wearing much and teasing. Since the cast of females includes the likes of Briana Evigan, Deborah Ann Woll, Jesse Russu, Lisa Marcos and Candyce McClure, there was hardly any complaining from me! However, the lads do become quite irritating with their school boy shouting and ‘wooping’ which began to grate at my patience!
Thankfully, the criminals arrive and suddenly it looks like the lads are gonna meet some pain and suffering. Sadly, a few bashes with the end of a gun, a few slaps and such and all of a sudden the group are overpowered by the three brothers and tied up. Mother is called to explain why she has lost the house, and she decides to pop over for a quick chat with the new owners and have some revenge. See, Mother is not very nice, we learn that as we see her steal a baby from hospital at the beginning followed by a male nurse being viciously stabbed. Mother arrives at the house and, at first, plays nice until she realises that the money that was supposed to be sent to the house has gone astray. Now Mother is angry, she wants revenge and, in another drawn out plot which takes up a good third of the film, one of her sons must escort one of the ladies to a cash machine to get all their money. This story actually leads to a rather unpleasant scene involving two girls on a night out who also want to use the cash machine. I won’t go into details but it was one of the few scenes in the film that actually made me sit up and watch.
Back at the house its pretty much business as usual as victims escape, then get caught or change their minds, the criminals play games and threaten, like when one’s girl friend is pushed over the pool table and one of the brothers pretends to rape her. Pretend being the key word here as it never happens and this pretty much sums up the film. All this threat, all this menace and bullying never really amounts to much. You expect things to get worse, and you know they can get a lot worse but for some reason you never really feel any sense of danger. There is violence but it all just feels far too cliched and nothing really shocks. De Mornay, bless her, is superb and actually very sexy as the evil Mother but even her performance never makes you feel truly scared. Sadly, Mother’s Day is missing that bite, that edge to make it really truly great. The colouring is all wrong too, and you may think I am being far too picky here, but the bright oranges and whites and browns of the house mixed with the bright lights water down all tension and the whole set up feels, well, like a movie set. In fact, it looks so comfortable and safe, you almost expect canned laughter from a studio audience at times!
Its a shame because Mother’s Day could and should have been brilliant. A trick was missed here and I am hoping, based on the trailer I have seen, that Bousman was a little too distracted by his next movie 11.11.11 to really give this film his full attention. It is clear the chap has skill and based on the Saw films, it is clear he loves his violence, however none of that really shone through here. Mother’s Day is an easy, familiar horror that never pushes into dangerous or distasteful realms and I believe it was guts and confidence to really push boundaries that was missing here.