Today: March 2, 2024
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Mother's Day

The ‘80s were a strange time to grow up. Thatcher was in power and we still had miners to go on strike. Greed was good. The Cold War got won. MTV still showed music videos rather than thick, drunk Guido/Geordie stereotypes copping off with one another. Everyone dressed like too-cool-for-school

The ‘80s were a strange time
to grow up.

Thatcher was in power and we
still had miners to go on strike. Greed was good. The Cold War got won. MTV
still showed music videos rather than thick, drunk Guido/Geordie stereotypes
copping off with one another. Everyone dressed like too-cool-for-school Hackney
hipster twats but none of us were being ‘ironic.’ Wham bars and Curly Wurlys
were definitely bigger. Being a rebel
meant taking a can of Top Deck shandy (less than 0.5 ABV!) to school in your
packed lunch and being in a gang meant you and your mates building a den and
studying the tattered pages of a grumble mag you and Frannie and Brian had
found in a hedge while riding your BMXs as opposed to capping the mutha who
dissed you in MaccyD’s. In many ways the ‘80s were a more innocent time. Then
everyone’s parents bought a video recorder and innocence was blown straight to
hell.

While it may seem quaint
these days when you’re only a mouse click away from being able to watch enough disgusting filth to make
Charlie Sheen go blind (seriously, in a world were you can get Tubgirl on your phone, a ropey VHS of SS Experiment Camp seems pretty tame), for a few golden years, before
the knee-jerk passage of 1984’s Video Recordings Act, Britain was flooded with
sickeningly violent, sexually explicit, low-budget trash any nine-year old
could just nip down the corner shop and rent. One of those films was Mother’s
Day
, a heart-warming little tale
about three sexy girls who go camping in the woods and are kidnapped by some
lurking inbreds who take them home to meet their Momma. Who happens to get her
kicks from goading her sons into torturing, raping and murdering sexy girls who
go camping, yelling encouragement and direction from her rocking chair.
Gleefully sadistic and trashy, Mother’s Day was the sort of tawdry, cheap ’n’ nasty little
shocker made to cash in on the, frankly, already pretty cheap and nasty
exploitation delights of movies like I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House on the Left. It’s an ugly, repellent exercise in misogyny with
absolutely nothing to recommend it. So why the hell would anyone want to
remake it?

Well,
they haven’t. Not really. While it seems that every other horror flick coming
out of Hollywood these days is a soulless, revisionist remake of a classic from
the ‘70s or ‘80s, Mother’s Day is
different. Not better, just different. Taking only the title, the characters’
names and their quasi-incestuous devotion to their mother from the 1980
original, director Darren Lynn Bousman has borrowed the Desperate Hours scenario (bad guys on
the run hide out in hostages’ home) and crafted a torture-porn version of House
of Sand and Fog
. And, if you think that sounds pretty good, sorry to mislead you.

Bank-robbing po’ white-trash scuzzballs Ike, Addley
and poor gutshot Johnny, flee the scene of their latest botched heist the cops
hot on their heels. With a tornado on the way and Johnny bleeding to death in
the backseat, the brothers head home because, well, because Mother knows best.
Unfortunately, the boys haven’t been calling home often enough (Hey! Boys will
boys) and Mother lost the house when the bank foreclosed on the mortgage. The
boys blunder into the middle of a tornado party being thrown by new owners and
grieving parents Beth and Daniel (King and Grillo). Taking the couple and their
friends hostage, the brothers call their Mother (De Mornay) who’s now living in
a camper van with their sister Lydia (Woll). She quickly establishes her
authority, reigning in Addley’s more rapey urges and despatching Ike and Beth
to the local ATM with everyone’s cashcards and PIN numbers to pick up some
travelling money. All they have to do is make it through the night and the
family will be on their way. Everyone can go back to their normal lives. But,
despite her icy calm, Mother may just be the most dangerous member of the
family and she’s got a few things she wants to get straight with her home’s new
owners…

An overlong, pointless wallow in sadism, Mother’s
Day
is
about as unlikeable as a film can get without actually being offensive or in
any way interesting. Mechanically efficient and glossily made by director
Bousman who gave us a couple of the Saw movies and Goth musical Repo!
The Genetic Opera
, Mother’s Day is a cynical, soulless exercise in cheap thrills and
ultra-violence. It’s slick and superficially tense but ultimately unsatisfying.

Having tried and failed to escape the torture porn
niche with the gorgeous turkey Repo! The Genetic Opera, Bousman feels like a
man scorned, determined to rub the audience’s nose in the sheer selfish
crapness of humanity. “I tried to give you beauty,” he seems to be screaming
“But all you want is pointless torture scenes. Well, screw you, I’m going to give you the best damn ear
scalding you’ve ever squirmed through, pussies!
” None of the characters are
remotely sympathetic and are either unlikeable yuppie scum or nutty redneck
scum all of whom lie, cheat and manipulate their way through the film, stabbing
each other in the back (and sometimes the front). Bousman knows his audience
and gives them exactly what they want; plenty of needless cruelty with just a
hint of leering sexuality (De Mornay tries to force one hostage into popping her
gutshot son’s cherry) but nothing too depraved or weird, nothing too original,
nothing that’d scare the producer, the beige Brett Ratner, into not putting his
name in the titles.

De Mornay is fantastic as the psychopathic
matriarch, delivering a chilling, understated performance of quiet insanity
that’s essentially the nutty nanny from The Hand That Rocks The Cradle 20 years down the line.
She’s better than the film deserves and a total GILF, by far the sexiest thing
in the film. King is also good as the grieving mother forced to fight for
survival, revealing a steel her previous turns as eye-candy in movies like Sin
City
and
Pearl Harbour
have lacked while Flueger and Kole rise above their by-the-numbers roles as
respectively the smart, charming brother and the psycho, rapey brother. In
fact, the entire cast is damn good and the only thing that is truly offensive
about Mother’s Day is seeing such capable and interesting actors as True
Blood
’s
Deborah Ann Woll, Shawn Ashmore, Frank Grillo and Alexa Vega forced to grapple
with such underwritten and, for the most part, disposable roles.

Nowhere near as nasty, explicit and sleazy as it
needs to be, Mother’s Day is a disheartening, futile waste of everyone’s time and
is exactly what you’d expect from the man who gave the world Saw 2, Saw 3 and Saw 4.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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