Rebecca De Mornay
Patrick John Flueger
Deborah Ann Woll
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Mother's Day (2010)
20th Jan 12
80’s sexpot Rebecca De Mornay (anyone else endlessly rewind her nude scene in the otherwise crap And God Created Woman remake? Anyone…?) is now a loving but bat-shit loony mom of three wayward, home-invading sons. Cross her and she WILL set fire to your face before finishing off the Yorkshire Puddings.
After a fairly unsettling prologue involving brutality on a maternity ward, three brothers, one of whom is mortally wounded, return to their family home after a botched bank robbery. They discover that the house has been occupied by a middle class couple for two months and who, as a tornado looms, are now having a disco-enhanced dinner party in their basement. It isn’t long before their loving Mother (Rebecca De Mornay) turns up at the house, still sticking to her cardinal rule: “Never trust anyone but family”. She’s a polite, well-spoken Mom with no shortage of homespun catchphrases and wisdom, a hatred of dishonesty and a tendency to be hugely protective of her boys. Oh, and she is also unfailingly friendly while quietly ordering the snooker-ball battering of the man of the house.
Director Darren Lynn Bousman made his genre name with the first three Saw sequels before dividing opinion with the love it / want to piss on the negatives Repo The Genetic Opera. Here, he has refashioned Charles Kaufman’s largely forgotten post Deliverance backwoods rape / revenge / satire into a brutal one-location urban home-invasion horror movie. In its new incarnation, Mother’s Day has more in common with the likes of Cherry Tree Lane and this year’s outstanding Kidnapped than it does the 1980 bad-taste slasher comedy. As with Bousman’s Saw sequels, it cynically immerses the audience in humanity’s capacity for violence and cruelty while displaying a Wes Craven-like fascination for improvised domestic weapons. Bousman, whose Saw movies were almost entirely without humour of any kind, dilutes the throwaway sick laughs of the original in favour of straight suspense, grim twists of fate and unshowy but nasty bouts of violence.
As home invasion thrillers go, it could and should have been tighter : from the director that made the only two hour Saw movie, this is far flabbier than necessary, with too many characters and over length diluting its overall impact. The performances are solid, especially from the girls (notably Jaime King, the sexy Briana Evigan from, Burning Bright and the haunting teen vampire from True Blood, Deborah Ann Woll), but the tension ebbs and flows.
The best thing about this Mother’s Day is, appropriately enough, Mother herself. It’s her first pure horror role, though The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, with its uniquely creepy breast-feeding sequence and lets-hit-each-other-with-shovels climax, almost qualifies. (We have disqualified her interpretation of Wendy Torrance in the TV mini-series of The Shining because the whole thing was vaguely embarrassing). Here, De Mornay is tremendous as the smiling, mostly mild-mannered maternal puppet-master of a fucked-up brood, calmly overseeing acts of torture and conveying all sorts of malice beneath her motherly mannerisms.
Not nearly as sleazy as the more overtly exploitative original, this slick reworking succeeds in being uncomfortable: Bousman downplays the showpiece splatter in favour of more powerful, short sharp bursts of nail gun / shotgun violence and some genuinely queasy sadistic flourishes. Like so many of these in-name-only remakes, it’s doubtful it will be remembered in 30 years’ time, whereas the Kaufman original has a quirkiness and twisted sensibility that made it stand out of the 80’s slasher crowd. Still, the mean-spirited shock ending is very much in keeping with the early 80’s cycle.