It’s nearly impossible to ignore the immediate urge to see a movie about Nic Cage desperately wanting to murder his children—I’m pretty sure the audience for a movie like Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad is literally everyone. Who doesn’t want to see that? The concept of parents turning on their own children really isn’t anything special (it’s basically a reverse Cooties), but it’s exactly the kind of wild genre idea that makes horror so endearing. It’s also why Taylor’s film is ultimately disappointing—all of the ingredients of a great genre movie are here and you get an appropriately off-the-wall performance from Cage, yet the execution was all wrong. In it, a teenage girl and her little brother must survive during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own kids.
Outside of Cage as a parent-gone-psycho-killer, Mom and Dad struggles to be anything more than just a good idea, and a lot of that is attributed to Taylor’s awful directing choices. What might have worked on his previous films like Crank and its sequel, completely misses the mark here because Mom and Dad is all over the place. And worse yet, as soon as you think it starts to find some footing, the film distractedly cuts to a flashback that instead of enriching the narrative and its characters (like they’re supposed to), they feel forced and out of place—the flashbacks just seemed like desperate filler because the movie ran out of anything interesting to say (or do). Because of that, most of the pacing in the film is disjointed and it very quickly becomes a chore to sit through.
But probably the worst thing about this movie is that it’s not even the brainlessly fun thriller that it promised to be—the pull quote in the trailer that says it’s like Home Alone on bath salts (see below) is so hilariously misleading, too. The only thing this movie has in common with Home Alone is that there’s a house in it. That’s literally it. And the last time I checked, Home Alone wasn’t a poorly made, one-dimensional mess. It’s a cheap-looking thriller that fails to thrill, and its worse offense is that it never capitalizes on a wonderfully unhinged performance from Cage.
I get it, crazy Nic Cage is the best Nic Cage, but sometimes bad is just bad, and I honestly think Cage’s performance clouded a lot of opinions on this one—the amount of hype for this movie out of its festival debut is truly baffling. And the fact that Mom and Dad ends right in the middle of a character talking kind of tells you everything you need to know. That said, there are some fun moments in the film, so you at least get something out of Mom and Dad—the final act packs a nice punch and has an appropriately goofy twist thrown in (even if it is ruined by the trailer). Everything else, though, is just wasted potential.