Review of Mother's Day

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The sadistic members of a villainous family return to their childhood home to terrorize the new home owners and their guests.
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Movie Review: "Mother's Day"

--Rating: R
Length: 112 minutes
Release Date: May 5, 2011
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Genre: Crime, Drama and Horror

"Mother's Day" is a remake of the 1980 horror movie of the same name. Starring Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King and Shawn Ashmore, the movie follows the exploits of a sadistic, troubled family of criminals as they wreak havoc on a group of unsuspecting revelers.

The story opens on three brothers who are seeking an escape after a bank robbery had gone wrong. Heading to their mother's house, they find new owners have taken residence. The insane trio of criminal brothers finds the owners and their friends in the middle of a party and takes them hostage. In true slasher film style, the eight friends are trapped in the basement, awaiting the horrors that the brothers can bring upon them before their mother arrives.

The brothers, though cruel, are nothing in comparison to their mother, who is called in to help determine the location of a significant amount of money her offspring has been sending. The horror ratchets up a few notches as she comes on the scene and as the captives have no chance. With a few mind games and no shortage of gore, "Mother's Day" ends with a predictable and satisfying conclusion.

Rebecca De Mornay shines as Mama, delivering a strong, memorable performance that will leave audiences shivering for hours after the final credits roll. In a single character, De Mornay manages to put together a range of movie stereotypes, from supercilious mother to an insane, pathological serial killer. The result is decidedly disturbing. Her repeated swings in personality are seamlessly tied together by her cold, demonic attitude. De Mornay has no problem outperforming the other actors, and her creepy performance will undoubtedly become the stuff of nightmares.

When it comes to the script, however, De Mornay can only do so much with the material she is given. Writer Scott Milam adapted the original 1980 screenplay, which was written by Charles Kaufman and Warren Leight. At times, "Mother's Day" seems like it will move into new horror movie territory-but then it is dragged backward by the endless, gory violence. For the most part, the remake does not have much in common with the original. Despite Milam's efforts to bring a gravitas and sense of serious filmmaking to "Mother's Day," however, the story ends up falling prey to the relentless violence. While gruesomeness is useful and effective in small, scattered amounts, the sheer volume of gore in "Mother's Day" tends to wear on viewers. After the first few killings, the suspense fades away and leaves viewers wanting more of a plot.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman has a unique style that is designed to give audience the full view of the violence that is unfolding before them. Instead of panning away discreetly or shooting from a distance as each victim is tortured and killed, Bousman zooms right in. Viewers are treated to the dubious pleasure of close-up views of mutilated bodies and oozing flesh. For the faint of heart, "Mother's Day" might be more overwhelming than other horror movies, simply by virtue of the gore factor alone. Throughout the film, the most shocking aspect is the four criminals' complete lack of humanity. The methodical, senseless torture of the victims, combined with the total lack of familial bonds, creates an empty feeling that permeates the film.

The supporting cast offers up admirable performances, providing a solid base to De Mornay's portrayal of Mama. The brothers, played by Patrick Flueger, Warren Kole and Matt O'Leary, are unapologetic thugs. When Mama shows up-she has no biological relation to the boys, having kidnapped them when they were babies-the boys turn into whimpering, whining messes. It is both disturbing and entertaining to watch the psychological torture De Mornay's character enacts on her sons, which she does frequently and with aplomb. The cast of victims, headed by Frank Grillo and Jaime King, does what they can with the material they are given. They are alternately horrified and hopeful, plotting to escape and failing dramatically. The audience feels for the hostages, though they may not feel emotionally connected to their characters.

Despite its shortcomings, "Mother's Day" provides a suitably gruesome horror movie experience. Viewers who are looking to be scared or horrified will not be disappointed. What the movie lacks in suspense or story, it makes up for in truly alarming characters and shock value. Although it is not appropriate for younger audiences, it makes for an entertaining evening with friends.