Notable Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Shawn Ashmore, Frank Grillo, Patrick Flueger, Warren Kole, Deborah Ann Woll, Briana Evigan, Matt O’Leary, Lyriq Bent
Review: What better way to end my actual Mother’s Day than renting another straight to DVD Darren Lynn Bousman project. His last, 11-11-11, presented an ill-fated attempt at religious/cultist horror which drove viewers away in flocks instead of garnering worshipers, so suffice it to say there was some lingering doubt Mother’s Day would be any more watchable. But as I sank deeper into Bousman’s re-imagining, blood-red waves of relief washed over me as Mother’s Day made me forget about Darren’s previous apocalyptic debacle. Bousamn was able to accomplish something special with his recreation of Troma film’s 1980 cult classic of the same name. Not only was he able to capture the gore and “fun” Troma files were so famous for, but Bousman brought Hollywood flair and respectability where Troma was considered nothing but low quality. Hence why I avoided using the term re-make when discussing what Bousman did. Writer Scott Milam took the concept of Mother’s Day and penned a similar story with his own creative touches, then Bousman took the reigns with similar intentions. I would call Mother’s Day a fresh take on the Troma exploitation of old, easily considered some of Bousman’s best work to date (haven’t had a chance to check out The Devil’s Carnival yet though).
Daniel (Grillo) and Beth (King) Sohapi have recently moved into a new home which was snagged for cheap after a sad foreclosure. Throwing a party for their closest friends, the couple play host to their guest’s needs. All except keeping them safe that is. As fun and games are had, three bank robbing brothers speed towards the last known residence of their beloved mother only to stumble upon the Sohapi party. Izaak (Flueger) and Addley (Kole) carry their wounded brother Jonathan (O’Leary) and prop him on the couch as Daniel hears commotion upstairs. He discovers the felons who take control of the house, and within no time turn the party into a hostage situation. But the worst is yet to come. After finally reaching his mother, Natalie Koffin (De Mornay) arrives at her old house with daughter Lydia (Woll). From here, it becomes obvious “Mother” holds the brains in the Koffin family, as she displays every motherly instinct only a Manson could possess. Natalie brings the phrase “respect your elders” to an unsettling level, just trying to protect her poor young boys. Sarcasm intended.
“GO TO YOUR ROOM!” No questions asked…
Well, if Rebecca De Mornay’s daughters see Mother’s Day, I doubt there will be a single disobedience issue dealt with as their mom. What a phenomenal performance from an actress who could balance Mother’s homely love and violent brutality. Think Marsha Brady mixed with Jigsaw: just follow the rules and everything will be just fine. Plus you might get some ice cream out of it! Mother isn’t fueled by hatred or malice, instead driven by devoted love for her small family of vagrants. Mother’s emotional dial is set so her reactions are vile, but none come without reason. Natalie tries to reason with the partygoers and spreads some of her signature tender love and care in an attempt to quell rebellion, but people held at gunpoint are sometimes a bit irrational. At this moment Mornay unleashes the villainous beast hidden behind her down home generosity, bringing fun out of a dark character. Prim, proper, but full of fire and brimstone: Mother entrances characters using soft-spoken rationality almost impossible to combat. Mother’s genuinely unnerving psychotic sweetheart delivery deserves plenty of fear, commanding screen presence with stern tones like only a scornful female figure can. Rebecca De Mornay gives a bloody good performance as Mama Koffin, a worthy competitor for female mother type killers abroad. Eat your heart out Mrs. Voorhees, this murderous Mother does her own dirty work.
For every ounce of twisted terror Mornay brings to Mother, Bousman contorts tenfold via gory torture. The three-time Saw director utilizes his torment knowledge from the past mixed with Saw‘s consistent over the top violence to strive for a full Troma experience, and then some. Where Troma headmaster Charlie Kauffman focused more on campy tendencies, Bousman keeps a certain respectability about his horror. The Koffin’s were relatable to true thugs instead of Hollywood bad boys, inventive carnage ruled over simple slashing, and Bousman delivered a much more focused production where 11-11-11 darted a billion places at once. Hell, the man kept things so realistic police actually broke up a scene mid shot because a real bank was robbed a few miles away during filming and officers were convinced Bousman’s cast were the actually criminals. Vividly seared into my mind are a few brutal killings still, making Mother’s Day one of the better home invasion films release over the last few years. Mother’s Day is exactly what Darren needed to boost a falling credibility.
The scary part is, Mother’s Day‘s first cut was wrapped December 11th, 2009. Yes, it’s 2012 now. Bousman has been gestating his pride and joy for some three plus years, and maybe that’s what leant to cleaner success. Or, maybe we can relate the long shelf life to Hollywood’s dying belief in exploitation and grindhouse horror. But what scares me is while I love Repo! The Genetic Opera more than most, the latter of Bousman’s Saw films and 11-11-11 prove as blemishes on his directorial record. I want to consider Mother’s Day a beacon of hope, but 11-11-11 in fact came after production had wrapped. Barring my verdict on The Devil’s Carnival, Bousman may have a hole to dig out of considering Mother’s Day stands as my favorite in his catalogue to date. None of that could have been possible without the lovely Rebecca De Mornay though, who embodies the merciless Mother in question. But don’t count out emerging scream queen Jaime King (The Tripper/My Bloody Valentine/Silent Night), who challenges Mornay as one tough cookie. Sure, questioning why the group didn’t just bumrush Addley from the beginning who was holding a slow loading shotgun may lead to a slippery slope of mounting plot digust…so just don’t. Easy, see? This is one horror movie mommy definitely won’t approve of, unless your mom is into gratuitous violence, hot women, foul language, and a hearty heaping of Bousman imagined gore. In that case, your mom f#cking rules.
Final Rating: 7.5 new gifts for mom out of 10
Not even a broken tailbone on day 3 of shooting could stop King…