Indie filmmaking tends to lead to some of the most ludicrous of ideas becoming representative of either the best or worst of low-budget filmmaking. In the case of Brian Taylor’s “Mom and Dad,” it falls squarely in the middle for myself, as my grade reflects. As a whole, I would recommend giving it a go if your in the mood for something that you’ve never seen before. But be forewarned that it’s nowhere near as good as it could have been, but “Mom and Dad” does accomplish what the best of indie films do, in that of showcasing the heart of a filmmaker at its center.
The narrative, if you haven’t already heard, is bat-shit crazy. The premise of grasping the narrative of the cliched storyline fragments of aging parenthood and transitioning that into something involving a child murdering frenzy of adults is unique to say the least. Taylor takes that ideal premise and instead of transferring it to the obviousness of a romantic comedy or the optimal drama/comedy, Taylor decides to create a horror/comedy.
A group of psychopathic monsters whose sole mission in life has reversed from protecting the children to destroy the children, specifically their children. How does this occur? Well, we never quite discover the answer to that inquiry. The camera showcases how it's some sort of neuro-frequency that is communicated through a white noise/static effect that overtakes the screens of phones, tv’s, and a vital monitor at one point. Is it a terrorist attack? Don’t know, and I think that’s the point of it all. It’s not a film that is meant to take the time and provide an explanation for the occurrence of this epidemic, but rather Taylor focuses on the insanity of the situation and how effortlessly creepy some images, that we commonly view as genuinely beautiful, can become quite unsettling when attaching his idea to them.
From the get-go though, the story is given some oddball moments of filmmaking in that of the subdued insanity of Nicholas Cage. The father figure whose reaching that point of self-reflection and realizing his life is nothing like what he imagined it to be or desired it to be. He finds himself at a job he hates, a part of a family that feels disconnected, and a marriage that is vapid of passion. A familiar character figure that we’ve seen before, but when you intertwine the sheer ludicrousy of Taylor’s story, then you have a character that could and should only be portrayed by the enigmatic Nicholas Cage.
The performance is everything you would want it to be, and everything it needs to be as well. When he needs to act seriously, as far as believability of the character, he does. When he needs to become the kooky Cage we’ve come to know and love, he becomes just that with his vocal expressions, gaping eyes, and mannerisms of bombastic insanity. And yes, there is a moment of sheer brilliance to be found from this man once again in a particular scene that involves him having an emotional breakdown. A scene in which he tears apart a newly constructed pool table with a sledgehammer as he sings the children’s song known as “The Hokey Pokey,” and it's every bit of greatness that you’d expect it to be.
Nicholas Cage is the expected genius to be found, and Selma Blair is the unexpected gift. The formerly prominent actress from the “Hellboy” franchise has found herself in a role that allows her to execute the blankness of emotion she’s known for a while using those unorthodox facial expressions to get across this theme of the antithetical mother. It’s an extreme twist on a subgenre of filmmaking that we’ve seen on multiple occasions before. An extreme twist that is enveloping until the freshness of it all wears off, and we are forced to settle into this story.
Once the story begins to settle into its third act and focus on creating a survival thriller of sorts, “Mom and Dad” begins to self-implode upon its own genius. The teen performances become unequal with one being acceptable and another being abysmal, and the filmmaking begins to unveil the flaws of a director with a not so successful track record. The editing is far too choppy, and the scenes of horror go from becoming snippetly disturbing to baffling unwatchable and hard to follow due to the rapid transitions and unfocused editing. The final act gives off the feeling of a screenwriters room in which a bunch of pitch ideas were attached to a concluding third act that feeds off of the original premise and begins to overstay its welcome. The idea serves best for a far quicker and far less extended story that should have been told in a matter of sixty minutes or less. This a primitive idea for a short film that has a lot to say and a lot of eccentric fun to be had, but “Mom and Dad” is a film that loses sight of itself the further it goes on
“Mom and Dad” is a film that is quite easy to pick apart if you decide to do so, but in the right mindset, there is a lot of fun to be had in this dark screwball of a film. Nicholas Cage’s performance is worth the purchase of a ticket, but then again I would pay money to watch Mr. Cage argue with a wall for two and a half hours. The originality to be found is great, but once those nuances wear off and the story becomes the focus, I began to grow in disconnection in gargantuan progressions. “Mom and Dad” represent the best and worst of indie filmmaking in expressing a creative idea and bringing it to life, but the flaws of an unfocused and unsuccessful filmmaker begin to become a focal point to bring this imaginative premise back down to earth. Is it watchable? Oh yes, I would even go as far as to say it’s enjoyable. Is it good? I wouldn't jump to that conclusion just yet.