Mom and Dad review: Nicholas Cage plays a homicidal father in this surprise horror hit

Steve Hogarty
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Mom and Dad

An energetically weird horror-comedy from Brian Taylor (co-director of Crank and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), Mom and Dad sees the world descend into mass hysteria as the useful cocktail of brain-chemicals that keeps parents from slaughtering their own children is somehow switched off, and the instinct to protect is supplanted by an urge to kill.

Nicholas Cage does his special Nicholas Cage thing, playing the role of a mid-life-crisis dad with a paunch and receding hairline. Selma Blair is a Nutribullet yoga mom who sacrificed her career for her two kids, a rebellious Instagram teen and a younger, still unconditionally adoring son.

The director frames suburbia in a bonkers way, shooting characters from stupid camera angles – like really low down in car seats or from directly above – and with a constant and never quite appropriate soundtrack. Lounge music fades into aggressive electronica, and then Hitchcockian strings. It opens with a mother calmly abandoning her baby on a level crossing, before we cut to an incongruous and upbeat, Dr No-style credits sequence, a style and theme never revisited in the film’s 83 minutes.

The result is an experimental, unhinged, high-concept horror flick with an unpredictable driver behind the wheel. It feels like it can go in any direction at any time, and frequently does, with one scene delivering the most ghastly horror set-piece in recent memory. Mom and Dad is a sublime piece of low-brow ultra-violence, and a gratifyingly primal tonic after Oscar season.

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