When it was announced that Darren Bousman (Saw II-IV, Repo!) was going to helm a Mother’s Day remake full of hot actresses I, like many horror fans, was psyched. The original is by no means an amazing film, but it’s actually one of the better Troma releases and has something of a cult following behind. Bousman himself turned out a few good entries in the Saw series and the surprisingly entertaining Repo! The Genetic Opera, plus both Deborah Ann Woll and Briana Evigan were cast.
With the cards seemingly stacked in its favor, settling in for a midnight screening at Fantastic Fest, I was surely in for a good time, right? Right?
In the 2010 version of Mother’s Day, gone is the redneck in the woods premise replaced by an extended family of criminals under the lovingly oppressive thumb of dear old Mom (Rebecca De Mornay). Instead of just twin boys, this go around fleshes the family out to three sons (Matt O’Leary, Warren Kole and Patrick Flueger) and a daughter (Deborah Ann Woll).
Believing that the family that robs and murders together stays together, the recently prison-free sons crash their old address, not knowing that mommy dearest has been evicted — damn this recession. After breaking in and kicking ass, you can’t just apologize and leave, especially not when you suspect the couple in the home have been keeping all that dirty money you mailed home every Christmas.
Normally at this point in a review, I’d want to talk about the characters who will be facing off against the criminals. In the interest of keeping this review under 15,000 words, I’m not going to do that. Not content with just a handful of victims, an entire party of people is raided — there are something like nine different people being held hostage and, if you pay close attention, even a few more in the background who were edited out of the final story.
The star is definitively Jamie King as Beth Sohapi, though she spends most of the film out of the house teamed with the lead sociopath. Without further adieu, I’m going to tell you that I didn’t like Mother’s Day. Not in the slightest. One of the reasons is the bloated cast – while they’re recognizable and capable, it’s just far too many people to keep track of or care about. There are attempts at giving each something to do, or some back story, but for the most part it just feels cluttered.
Mother’s Day also tackles it’s main message with the subtly of a sledgehammer. You see, our psychopaths like to play games with their victims, to teach them the value of – I don’t know, quick decision making? What Bousman and writer Scott Miliam really want to ask is “What would you do to survive?” Not complacent to just ask once, virtually every set of characters (most are divided into dating couples, and a set of friends) are forced to either fight, kill, or otherwise hurt someone to save themselves. Without fail, someone will take the bait and set off a chain of violence, but then again, what would you do to survive? I mean, it’s not like you outnumber the bad guys significantly and are left unattended for long periods.
When it comes to violence, there are a few decent moments, but mostly the gore goes uncelebrated and at times, reaches out for the absurd. One would have thought that the nail-gun had long past served its secondary purpose of killing people, but you’d be wrong.
The real problem with Mother’s Day, besides the overwhelming number of characters you don’t care about, is that it takes the cheap road out most of the time. Whether it’s a handful of unoriginal kills, the cliched ending, the sappy “what would you do to survive” angle, or the out of nowhere accidental kills, Mother’s Day leaves no unturned stone turned over, needlessly repeating what we’ve seen without offering anything new or interesting.
If you held a gun to my head, asked me what positive thing I could say about this film to survive, I’d probably say Deborah Ann Woll is hot and there’s one cool scene (involving a borderline-incestuous hand-job that ends before entering the realm of shock), and Addley is a pretty decent, if generic, villain. Rebecca De Mornay does fine, though I never see the real glint of crazy in her eye and she doesn’t bring the kind of convincing or over the top performance we’d expect.
Overall, Mother’s Day is one holiday I’ll be forgetting this year.