Remaking Charles (not Charlie) Kaufman’s 1980 original, Darren Lynn Bousman takes on Mother’s Day, hoping to infuse a new energy into a concept borrowed from the cult classic.
When a bank robbery goes bad, three brothers (Flueger, Kole, O’Leary) return to the family home only to encounter a new couple (Grillo, King) living there, and their childhood memories long forgotten. However, with one of the brothers suffering heavily from a gunshot wound, they take the new owners hostage, along with a bunch of friends over for a party, and call in their mother (De Mornay) to decide their next move. Then when the couple apparently lie about receiving parcels addressed to Mother, containing big sums of money sent home by her boys, things get a little nasty, and with news reports flooding local TV stations about the botched bankjob, the family try to scramble together an effective escape route.
Taking all the positives from the tone of the recent spate of Hollywood horror remakes, Mother’s Day has a gloss and sheen to it that makes it instantly watchable, drawing you into the action and story despite somewhat one-dimension and clichéd character arcs. The film though is much more of a home invasion thriller than the superficial offerings from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, and despite being heavy on shocking imagery, there’s very little that’ll actually scare you.
What will take your breath away instead, is the gore. Often feeling largely unnecessary, some of the attacks are so overly brutal – captors on hostages and vice-versa – it’s a little sadistic and certainly borders very closely on the over-used torture porn tag. Given Bousman’s Saw-heavy filmography, perhaps that’s the main thing he brought to the film, but it comes so close to ruining the whole narrative as a spectacle, that they’d have been much better advised to steer well-clear.
Just about though, Mother’s Day remains an effective and entertaining thriller. The tension and suspense throughout skips horror and adds a sense of chaos to the moments of high action. Twists and turns in the story bring a little more spice, though it’s easy to see through them.
From this sort of film you come to expect a certain style and quality of the acting, and Mother’s Day is no different. Acceptably over-the-top, across the cast, each play their roles with enthusiasm, confidence and a sense of endeavour, leaving the more subtle Deborah Ann Woll as sweet and naïve younger sister Lydia to effortlessly steal the show. Sadly it’s focal mother that lets it all down.
Though her dialogue is intended to play on the lessons parents teach their children, through Rebecca De Mornay’s performance it because hugely preachy towards the audience, to an off-putting level. When De Mornay isn’t telling off her kids and the captives, she’s an impressive stern force, but it’s makes for a very hit-and-miss, frustrating character.
Despite running a little over-long, Mother’s Day is a very competent, home-invasion thriller, glossy to the eye, if too bloody once it gets into its rhythm. The relationship between the hostages and their captors is played nicely, and on the whole it’s certainly entertaining, the film’s sadistic tendencies though will certainly prove too extreme for some, so only go into this if you’re happy to see your fair share of torn up human flesh.