Movie Review: Mother's Day

PrintE-mail Written by Paul Mount Saturday, 11 June 2011

Movie Reviews

As we drift slowly into another cinema summer season full of superheroes, robots, wizards and bad comedies, allow ‘Starburst’ to point you gently in the direction of Mother’s Day, a taut, edge-of-the-seat little horror/thriller which has just slipped into your Multiplex with precious little fanfare. In truth it’s probably only borderline ‘Starburst’ material - there’s nothing magical or supernatural going on here (Goddamit, there’s not even any aliens and no-one’s wearing a cape) - but as it’s the work of Darren Lynn Bousman (who directed ‘Saw II‘, ‘Saw III’ and ‘Saw IV’) and some pretty ghastly things happen to some unsuspecting people, I reckon it’s worth a shot and it’s certainly worth your time.

After a prologue in which a mysterious woman steals a baby from a maternity unit (and a security guard gets his throat cut for his pains) we seem to be heading into the familiar ’home invasion‘ territory of movies like Funny Games and The Strangers. There's a bit of Reservoir Dogs on the side as one member of the Koffin brothers, a group of hapless bank robbers, suffers a potentially-fatal gunshot injury and is bleeding to death in the back seat of their getaway car. The panicky gang decides to rush back to the family home where “Mother” will know what to do; in a pretty unbelievable plot contrivance the boys don’t realise that Mother was shipped out of the house two months earlier and the new owners are holding a party down in the basement. The gang break in and proceed to terrorise the group - and then Mother arrives on the scene and a bad situation quickly becomes a whole lot worse.

Mother’s Day goes off like a rocket and once all its key players are in place the movie starts to really ratchet up the tension; there’s a very real sense of dread here as the initially-reasonable Mother (De Mornay acting her tights off) becomes much more of a dangerous psychological threat than her gun-happy kids. Beth and Dennis, the house’s new owners, and their guests are trapped in the basement as Mother tries to find out what’s become of the money her sons have sent to the house (without realising she wasn’t there to receive it), and how to get together the money they’ll need to buy their way to safety in the wake of the boys’ failed bank robbery. Mother’s Day moves into some uncomfortable dramatic areas as the prisoners start to turn on one another in the name of survival and it appears that some of them have secrets which can only make their predicament even more disastrous.

Mother’s Day is a tour de force in stomach-churning thriller story-telling. As is so often the case in films where a group of ‘innocents’ are terrorised by psycopaths, it’s the escape attempts and the fumbled table-turning that cause the extreme violence. There’s graphic and inventive nastiness on display here from point-blank shootings, immolation, batterings with snooker balls and an eye-watering scene involving boiling water and someone’s ears. Aieee!!! Inevitably - and it’s really not spoiling things to state that not all the victims get out alive or unscathed - it’s the desperate final few who become as violent and monstrous as their tormentors although it’s hard to suppress a cheer when the most maniacal of the gang gets his come-uppance.

At a shade under two hours Mother’s Day may be a tad too long for its story, but with De Mornay on fine form and a cast of characters who are a bit more interesting and well-rounded than the canon fodder who usually make up the numbers in these sorts of films, it’s a cut above the generic slashers of the modern horror genre. As a thriller it’s a buttock-clenchingly enthralling and tense experience which isn’t even spoiled by the rather tacky and predictable ‘twist’ ending. Go see it before the men in spandex arrive en masse.

Expected rating: 6 out of 10

Actual rating:

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+1 #2 sophiea iqbal 2011-06-13 20:23
Watched this.

It was all the above and more! I was expecting...well I am not sure what. But a sickly heart racing, and almost to unbearable movie to watch, is what i got. All the characters really did drive the story to being a cut above others like it. De Mornay's character was a really interesting, complex and chiling persona. She played it beautifully and it was great to see her back after so long. Now for the bad points. The end seemed rushed, cheapening the movie and selling it short. It had the potential to do something different and unexpected at the end, and it didn't.

And I think they need to make a new genre for this type of movie, coz its not horror. More nightmare/ interuder genre.
+1 #1 Matt Tender 2011-06-12 10:35
love paul mount reviews. i get to see stuff i would have ignored and not waste money on bad movies. important when you are a student. Mother's Day is on my list to see.

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