Despite an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink climax which utilises frozen peas as a weapon, Mother’s Day clomps from traumatic to ridiculous to boring.
To say that Mother’s Day has an unpromising pedigree would be an understatement in a genre not exactly given to them. It’s a remake of a forgotten horror from 1980; director Darren Lynn Bousmann helmed Saws II through IV; plus the eponymous anniversary ranks only a steps ahead of, say, Burn’s Night in terms of potential spooksomeness.
At least casting The Hand That Rocks the Cradle’s maternally unhinged Rebecca De Mornay as the mother of a rampaging crime family suggests someone can spot quality when they see it, even if they’re only winking at it.
There’s been a rash of home-invasion riffs (Cherry Tree Lane) and remakes (The Last House on the Left) recently, and this begins among the best of them, as Flueger and Kole’s bank robbers take a house of celebrating thirtysomethings hostage while a tornado approaches.
The tone is suitably badass (doctor Ashmore punches out a patient for want of an anaesthetic), the adults are more interesting and lived-in than the usual teen fodder, plus we have no idea who’ll survive because no one’s particularly famous. Arriving halfway through to sort the mess out, De Mornay’s pretty creepy too, especially her amazing uncreasing forehead.
But just as the noose should be tightening (like that forehead), the film loses focus. The home-invasion flick’s USP is self-contained tension, yet the characters are left free to roam the house (and town), while Flueger, Kole and De Mornay turn from convincing crooks on the run to Saw-style sadists, pitting victims against each other to teach them a lesson. Just like in real life. "I’m sick of your fucking games!" screams King, as well she might.
Indeed, by the time the baddies are pouring scalding water into someone’s ears (he just won’t listen), things have gone right off the boil. Despite an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink climax, which utilises frozen peas as a weapon, Mother’s Day clomps from traumatic to ridiculous to boring, making the competition look like models of artistry and restraint. When that includes some of cinema’s most mercenary remakes, it’s no mean feat.
The mummy returns.
Stop or my mom will shoot.