Mom And Dad

MOM AND DAD MM D: Brian Taylor. U.S..

MOM AND DAD MM D: Brian Taylor. U.S. 83 minutes. Sep 10, 10:15 pm, Scotiabank 2 Sat, Sep 16, 9:15 pm, Scotiabank 13. Rating: NNNN

Best known for the high-octane Crank franchise, director Brian Taylor goes into mid-life crisis mode with a horror comedy about parents who become inexplicably compelled to kill their own children. And by pairing that concept with cult stars Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair as the titular mom and dad he likely had most genre fans at “hello.”

In Mom And Dad, a mysterious plague starts causing parents to turn on their offspring, though Blair’s unhappy housewife and Cage’s piggish hack of a husband are too busy wallowing in loveless suburban stagnation to notice. After witnessing a World War Z-like scene of orgiastic mayhem at her high school, their bratty daughter (Anne Winters) quickly figures out what’s up and races home to retrieve her younger brother (Zachary Arthur) before their parents walk in the door, not realizing that once they lay eyes on their kids they will be overcome with murderous rage.

Taylor employs many of the same tricks he used in the Cranks to ratchet up the tension, such as smash cuts, jagged camera angles and artfully choreographed slapstick action, though he dials down the gruesome factor given the subject matter. The pacing is uneven at times and the relatively tame violence early on actually works against Taylor’s ability to convey a sense that anything can happen later. But he smartly avoids explaining why the plague is happening, which is fine because – let’s face it – all we want to see is Cage and Blair go gonzo. (There’s also a truly inspired use of the Roxette song It Must’ve Been Love.)

Though the climactic showdown delivers big laughs and thrills, the joke is that hysterical violence has rekindled a desperately needed spark in mom and dad’s failing relationship, and Blair and Cage do a good a job of flipping between dysfunctional comedy and zany insanity in the third act. | @kevinritchie

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