Do you love your mother? Well then don’t subject her to the atrocious remake that is Mother’s Day. I don’t recommend the original either but that’s for different reasons which I’ll get into later. I admit, my mom watches anything, but this movie just a cheap horror film that doesn’t have any redeeming qualities. I had hopes for it considering director Darren Lynn Bousman has made one of my favorite musicals (Repo! The Genetic Opera) but he just fails in every way with this cliché riddled, crap fest. Happy mother’s day!
Three bank robber brothers go to their home after a job goes bad. One of the brothers, Johnny (Matt O’Leary) is shot and needs medical attention. The problem is that when the brothers get home they discover the house has been lost in foreclosure and is now owned by a suburban couple. As the couple and their friends are rounded up and held hostage, the brothers call their Mother (Rebecca De Mornay) to help them. The problem is that Mother is not exactly the most stable influence.
It seems our poll this week has hit a second wind and that the majority of people like a mix of contemporary and classic film reviews. So I’ve decided (an addendum to my changes from the other day) that while I’ll try to limit my reviews past 2002, I will attempt to include a fair bit of recent movies as well. I’ve always wanted this blog to be about enjoying old movies, but also giving you new film classics to seek out…or in this case, avoid.
The original Mother’s Day was a Troma film made in 1980. If you don’t know what a Troma film is. They are a movie studio that dealt with schlock pictures, more infamously The Toxic Avenger. Their take on Mother’s Day (itself springing out of the wave of holiday related films) focused on two hillbilly brothers who kidnap and torture three women at their mother’s behest. It’s exploitative, garish, and a truly awful film but it’s a Troma movie so you can’t really expect much. This film though is a whole other story.
I constantly wondered if the script was written before Rebecca De Mornay got the job. Plain and simple, she is the only reason to watch this film. I’ve loved De Mornay since The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and this movie essentially tries to be a sequel to that film. It opens with Mother stealing a baby, and throughout she’s constantly telling the female character about motherhood and being grateful for having children. So…is this all an in-joke to De Mornay’s film or is it all a coincidence? I have to believe part of this was to recapture fans of that movie. Throughout the film I wanted more about her. De Mornay, whether she’s in crap or not, has always been able to be compelling in movies and here she’s not just crazy (although who doesn’t love her when she’s crazy?) but she appears to genuinely love her children. The opening scene with her comforting Johnny is played with a real fear and compassion on her part. She also is a villain that balances fear with justice. She tells the group straight out, if you just sit here and don’t do anything you’ll be fine, there’s no need for violence. Of course, if they did that we’d have no movie but she warned them fair and square.
That’s ultimately the problem, the script creates such a charming villainess that you don’t give two craps about the other people involved because they’re all written to be total jerks. There’s the woman who you know (it’s so obviously it’s eye-roll inducing) is sleeping with the married owner of the house. There’s the happy African-American couple….that’s the extent of their characterization. There’s the horny guy marrying a girl far too young for him (played by Sorority Row star Briana Evigan), and female owner of the home Beth (Jamie King). You know the movie is bad when Jamie King’s your heroine. She’s sufficiently bland and disturbing looking because she’s so skinny. At times you think a walking skeleton is chasing you which appears more scary than Mother and her boys.
The group is all confined to a basement that I thought was actually their house. It’s so big that I don’t think it could conceivably be a basement, literally it’s like two sizes bigger than the top of the house. There is also a plot about a tornado coming but it’s the slowest movie tornado ever because at an hour and fifty-two minutes it never shows up!
You don’t care about any of the characters because they’re all written so shallowly and the actors don’t help. This is a typical “Run, scream, try to outwit the killers and fail” film but because the runtime is so long the movie recycles that far too much. There’s only so many times you can see each member of the group try to run away and be drug back before you start tuning out. The women are all vapid, one-dimensional sluts/bitches/weaklings ranging from the aforementioned characters above to the “I’m not like the others” stock daughter Lydia (Deborah Ann-Woll) who is Mother’s daughter. Alongside them the movie feels the need to cut to one character, who you assumed died, being operated on at a hospital. Why is she important? Is she going to solve the mystery from the operating table? Who cares?!
By the end none of the group members are sympathetic. If anything the script favors the villains in terms of providing sympathy, especially Mother. I felt more sorry for a woman who tries her hardest to keep her children close to her no matter the cost, then feeling for a woman who knowingly stole money that didn’t belong to her and was fine with her friends dying because she refused to hand it over (I’m taking to you Jamie King). Beth, King’s character, comes off as a despicable human being and I don’t think that was the intent of the movie. The entire reason Mother and her children were kicked out was because they had no money, yet Beth keeps their money and hides it because she wanted a clean start for her unborn child. You’re meant to feel bad for her because her husband is cheating on her but when someone puts a gun to your friends heads and asks for money…you might want to not be a selfish bitch.
I don’t know what Darren Lynn Bousman’s attempt was in remaking this movie. There are a few loving tributes to the original in this film, from the character Addley (Warren Kole) mentioning he hates disco which is a scene in the original movie, to the final characters all being female like in the original, but that doesn’t save the movie. The film also ends with a scene you can see a mile away and a possible sequel that is stupid as hell. I also recommend watching Mommie Dearest with your mother today, but if you’d like to torture your mother with a crappy horror movie there’s always this.
Just a reminder that I’m still giving away a copy of Hollywood Madonna – Loretta Young. There’s only one entry so please enter! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Loretta Young Giveaway and your name. The contest closes on May 19th and is open to everyone in the US and Canada! Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.