Mom and Dad: Nicolas Cage takes to the crazed plot like a duck to water

Review: The actor reaches a new level of lunacy in Brian Taylor’s film

Mom and Dad
    
Director: Brian Taylor
Cert: 15A
Genre: Horror
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Olivia Crocicchia, Brionne Davis, Samantha Lemole, Lance Henriksen
Running Time: 1 hr 26 mins

Think back on the most unhinged screen moments of Nicolas Cage’s career.

So much to choose from. That time when he puts in plastic Dracula teeth and runs through the streets screaming, "I'm a vampire!" in Vampire's Kiss? The opening gambit of David Lynch's Wild at Heart when he furiously beats a man to death? How about when he dresses like a priest and licks a teenage girl in Face/Off? How about the rest of Face/Off?

Or when, high on crack in Bad Lieutenant, he freaks out with the immortal words: "Shoot him again: his soul is still dancing!"

Multiply all these scenes together and you still can't match the awesome lunacy of Nic Cage killing a pool table in the delightfully delirious Mom and Dad. That's right. Even humble pub games are no longer safe.


With a taboo-trouncing twist on James Tiptree Jr's 1977 sci-fi classic The Screwfly Solution, this frazzled new horror-comedy from reliably hyperactive director Brian Taylor (Crank, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) concerns a mysterious signal that starts transmitting through television screens and radios.

All those who hear it become overwhelmed with an impulse to kill their own offspring. (Do keep an eye out for a birthing scene that makes Rosemary's Baby's labour sequence look like a smiley ad for midwifery.)

The Ryans are a dysfunctional suburban family comprising tightly wound dad (Cage), a bickering mother (Blair) and adolescent daughter (Winters), and an annoying younger brother (Arthur). But they were never quite this dysfunctional.

Cage, as one might imagine, takes to this crazed plot like a duck to water. Indeed, long before he’s exposed to the murderous signal, we’ve already noted the veins around his temple throbbing over toys not tidied away and his teenage daughter’s boyfriend. Selma Blair, who, having worked with John Waters and Todd Solondz, is no slouch when it comes to transgressive cinema, is his perfect, gleeful screen partner.

Kitsch titles recall such high-concept family horrors as The Baby or Let's Scare Jessica to Death. Veteran genre cinematographer Daniel Pearl (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, The Boy) makes the chaos pop with lurid colours and low angles.

You’ve seen the demented memes, now catch the bat-excrement crazy movie.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic