Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #317
Number of Views: One
Release Date: May 4, 2012
Sub-Genre: Home Invasion
Country of Origin: United States
Box office: $862,769
Running Time: 112 minutes
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Producers: Brett Ratner, Richard Saperstein, Jay Stern, Brian Witten
Screenplay: Scott Milam
Based on Mother’s Day by Charles Kaufman, Warren Leight
Special Effects: Damon Bishop
Visual Effects: Jon Campfens
Cinematography: Joseph White
Score: Bobby Johnston
Editing: Hunter M. Via
Studios: The Genre Co., Rat Entertainment, LightTower Entertainment, Twisted Pictures
Distributors: Anchor Bay Entertainment, StudioCanal
Stars: Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Patrick John Flueger, Warren Kole, Deborah Ann Woll, Briana Evigan, Shawn Ashmore, Frank Grillo, Lisa Marcos, Matt O’Leary, Lyriq Bent, Tony Nappo, Kandyse McClure, Jessie Rusu, Jason Wishnowski, J. LaRose, Jennifer Hupe, Alexa PenaVega, A.J. Cook, Mike O’Brien
Suggested Audio Candy
 Bobby Johnston “Mother’s Day”
 Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster “Celebrate Your Mother”
There’s a valid reason why mothers are afforded their very own calendar day each year to celebrate their often thankless pursuits. When I was but a mere boy and my knee became grazed while fleeing from the neighborhood bullies, it was good old mom who had the plaster peeled back before I could so much as wipe my snot on her sleeve. They do it out of instinct, in much the same manner as a pig offers its teats to its offspring, they do so without a second thought. Clearly there are exceptions to this rule and Norman Bates would likely interject at this point as his own child-bearer was more intent on entrapment than allowing the poor fellow to flourish but, on the whole, mom’s the word.
Darren Lynn Bousman’s Mother’s Day is a loose remake of Charles Kaufman’s rough diamond from 1980 which emerged from the infamous Troma stable and has been long since forgotten. It utilizes the theme but here is where any similarity ends as it is a glossy, well-played, and slickly produced home invasion movie with more in common with Adam Wingard’s You’re Next than the original source material. There have been something of a glut of films of its ilk doing the rounds in recent years and I, for one, have grown ever-so-slightly tired of the over-used formula. However, when done justice, there is still plenty of validity to the concept. Bousman’s effort cost in excess of $10m to produce and, alas, struggled to recoup even a slither of the outlay due to never being gifted a North American release. Therefore, many remain oblivious to its existence.
It centers around Beth and Daniel, a couple whom appear on the surface to be contented. They throw a soirée in the basement of their new home for six of their closest friends, all couples, unaware of the shit storm which is fast approaching. The looming feces cloud comes in the form of the Koffin brothers – Ike, Addley, and a mortally wounded Johnny – who are seeking refuge after a botched robbery left their youngest sporting multiple contusions. It isn’t long before the party has turned into an ever-spiraling nightmare for the new tenants and this only deepens upon the arrival of the boys’ timid sister Lydia and good old mother. It appears initially that mom’s calming influence will assist in talking her exuberant offspring down but, when the hand rocking the cradle belongs to Rebecca De Mornay, you just know it’s going to be a turbulent ride.
My first introduction to De Mornay came via Paul Brickman’s Risky Business when she made a man of Tom Cruise but I will always remember her most as the heinous Peyton Flanders in Curtis Hanson’s The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. This appeared during a flurry of big-budget Hollywood thrillers such as Pacific Heights, Unlawful Entry, and, of course, Fatal Attraction but resonated purely on the serene madness of this young lady. She was the epitome of a smiling assassin, surreptitiously breast-feeding the infant under her care whilst cramming child pornography into poor Solomon’s bicycle basket. In short, she was a hell bitch.
De Mornay has worked consistently in the industry since but it has taken until now for the unquestionable tools in her armory to truly be put to good use. Here she excels; showing just as much menace but every bit as sporadically as she did back when making the Bartels’ lives an absolute misery. As a result, an able cast give their all and it appears as though we’re in for a veritable treat but Bousman’s film falls down in some key areas and leaves its addressee supremely frustrated, at least, it did this viewer. It seems to be filling its lengthy duration effortlessly as there is all manner of debauchery taking place under the roof that was hers until losing it through disclosure. However, Mother’s Day is too convoluted for its own good and ends up overlong for entirely the wrong reasons.
There is simply so much in the way of revelation, split loyalties, and fragmented bonds that it ends up getting carried away with itself. It is troublesome empathizing with the victims as there are enough skeletons in their closets to make Sinbad feel inadequate. Somewhere along the way the experience becomes somewhat neutered and we lose track of who we should be rooting for. Moments such as when she kindly refuses to snatch one of her prey’s treasured pieces of jewelry on account of it being a family heirloom, highlight a moral fiber seemingly lacking in her quarry, and this is all well and good as, in this respect, it challenges its audience. However, by the time umpteenth rebellious escape attempt is foiled one can’t help but notice the unnecessary fat on these here bones.
The real meat and potatoes plays out whenever mother is on the scene; her manipulative nature and ability to spot and expose weakness and see through bullshit visors makes for a most formidable villain. Shawn Ashmore is also excellent as encumbered medic George; tasked with keeping Johnny’s pulse racing, thus proving himself invaluable to the unruly mob. Meanwhile the intriguing Lydia (Deborah Ann Woll) is underused and never fully fleshed out, a crime considering Mother’s Day clocks in at just shy of the two-hour mark. There’s not a shoddy performance in sight but neither are there more than a handful of likeable characters and ultimately there’s just too many rotten eggs to facilitate.
Mother’s Day is solid; I could never brandish it as being low-par as it simply isn’t once the case. The production value is there for all to see and it moves at a brisk enough pace to blind side you to the numerous inconsistencies…until the credits roll. It is here, unless I’m mistaken and I’m mindful that Bousman’s film will have amassed many fans, that I came away feeling a little short-changed. I liken it to pleading with mother for a clutch of coinage for the ice cream van, only to take a smattering of shrapnel to the chest like Kathy from Assault on Precinct 13 as I finally place my order. As I slide to the ground clutching my cornet and watching my short life pass before my teary eyes, I can only utter a solitary word… “why?” In my opinion, a streamlined edit of Mother’s Day may well provide the answers but, in its current state, it’s just a little too much of an open house.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: When it comes to bloodshed, it is far more of a party than mere gathering. If nothing else, the bloated cast offers a multitude of expendable lambs and they are subjected to some pretty horrendous cruelty. Keeper’s personal darling would have to be watching a victim who has had his head soundly perforated by a close-range shotgun blast slide down the wall just out of focus and I will freely admit to the old seal-clap at this point. Watching a reluctant woman strip for a delirious deviant while mom removes the shrink-wrap from his wiener is a particularly unsettling moment. I guess mother knows best.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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