Three brothers are on the run from the law, after their latest bank raid has gone disastrously wrong. With one of them seriously injured, they head to the one place a good son would – back home to mama! The only problem is that the bank repossessed the family home and mama, along with the boy’s teenage sister, was forced to leave. However due to some confusion over mobile phones (don’t ask – I didn’t really get this point either), the boys didn’t find out about this slight mishap, and arrive at the house to be greeted by the new residents who are in the middle of a party. Understandably upset by this sudden change in the family fortunes, the three misfits hold the unfortunate revellers hostage, and contact the only person whom can help them in their predicament. Enter the mother from hell, who will do literally anything for her boys, and I mean anything!
I can find absolutely nothing to say in favour of this cinematic abomination. Calling it a horror film is, in my opinion, misleading. Even the worst of them (and believe me I’ve seen some bad ones) usually have something in their favour, be that acting, storyline, effects, photography – something (though seldom all together). However anything Mother’s Day might have had going for it – Rebecca De Mornay puts in a very capable and undeniably chilling turn as the demented mother in question – is lost in the utter gratuitousness of this vile spectacle.
Though I had mixed feelings about going to see the film, I thought I’d give it a go. I was under the misconception that it would be along the lines of some of those 1980’s teenager in peril films: something like Happy Birthday to Me (1981) – please don’t ask why that particular slash fest came to mind, as I know it bears no relation whatsoever to mothers or their happy celebration, but there again neither does this film (the horror genre can play funny tricks on the memory). Neither did watching the trailer putt me off 100%. We are all aware that trailers can be misleading – just how bad could the film be: you could be forgiven for thinking that if a film has been deemed viewable, all be it with an 18 rating, it must have some merit? However Mother’s Day proves that wrong. It reminds me of those films of the 1970’s like The Last House on the Left (1972) and I Spit on Your Grave (1978), where vengeance upon those who wronged them seemed to give the victim carte blanche to take revenge in whatever form they liked no matter how extreme. During that infamous period of cinema history such films were banned as part of the ‘video nasty’ cull. Now similar, if not worse, have found acceptability under the umbrella of ‘torture porn’! But is there really any difference?
You could say that since the film is from the director of Saw II (2005), III (2006) and IV (2007), you should expect strong, sadistic violence. Indeed, though I’ve only seen a couple of the Saw films, I did recognise similarities. Even so, this did not prepare me for the film’s sheer nastiness. De Mornay’s character has little or no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but comes out even worse than her degenerate children because she hides her viciousness beneath a seemingly sweet exterior, at least initially. That she doesn’t have time or sympathy for her unwitting victims is hardly surprising. But we learn as the film proceeds, that she has been just as bad towards her own unsuspecting offspring. It emerges that she has subjected her children to prolonged, subtle mental abuse (which can be just as damaging as physical, some would say more), over a period of years.
Now I’m no prude where films are concerned. I can, and have, stomached pretty much everything over the years. However I defy even hardcore horror buffs not to be nauseated by the unrelenting violence of this film once it kicks in. What De Mornay’s character and her sons subject the unfortunate new inhabitants of their old house, and their friends, to is sickening – this family makes the inbreds from The Hills Have Eyes (1977) look like the Waltons! Rape (though this never actually gets as far as full perpetration), burning, mutilation, shooting, stabbing, beating, scalding with boiling water and that’s just for starters. Add to these atrocities a car crash, more shootings, suffocation with cling film, peppering a victim’s face with a nail gun (eat your heart out ‘Pinhead’), battering unconscious with a wooden chopping board, and burning the house down. The possibility of a redemptive finish to the whole sordid business, though admittedly that would have been out of keeping with the previous two hours, is lost in favour of an open ending and a bit of child abduction thrown in for good measure. Anyone with even a shred of morality should pray that they don’t make a sequel.
The film has what could have been one interesting twist. The male characters are for once, not necessarily the strongest, and almost without exception, none survive, while the women come out on top (excuse the pun!). However even this is overshadowed by the fact that it is a woman, in the shape of the mother, who is the real evil force driving her family to carry out their heinous crimes.
I’m sorry if my review has spoilt the film for you. However a critic’s job is to advise as well as criticise. As a result I see this as a warning against, as opposed to a recommendation in favour of it, and if reading this has made you think twice about seeing Mother’s Day, so much the better.