5

Mother’s Day (Blu-ray / DVD)

Cover art:

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Mother's Day on Blu-ray and DVDStarring Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Frank Grillo, Shawn Ashmore, Briana Evigan, Patrick John Flueger

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment


It feels like we’ve been waiting on the release of Darren Lynn Bousman’s Mother’s Day forever. Originally shot in 2009, the movie had an inexplicably long shelf time for reasons I don’t understand. It’s an effective little thriller, peppered with good performances, an overly cynical story and a desperate feel. In short, it succeeds at everything it sets out to do. In a world where Gone can open on 2200 theaters, there’s absolutely no reason Mother’s Day couldn’t have had a shot at terrorizing multiplexes across America as well.

It’s also a remake of the 1980 movie of the same name. And while it bears almost no resemblance to the odd Texas Chainsaw Massacre variation from over thirty years ago, it certainly works hard to please fans of Charles Kaufman’s splatter classic. Two of our three killers share the names of the previous loonies, and there’s a plethora of other visual/audio nods as well to keep fans sated – and that’s where the similarities end. There’s probably no real reason for this to have been made as a straight-up remake of 1980’s Mother’s Day. but the “complete reinterpretation” works in the movie’s favor anyway. We’ve already got the original film; let’s see what else can be done with the premise.

What Bousman comes up with is a straightforward home invasion thriller that wastes no time getting started. Three psychotic brothers on the run from the law hole up in their childhood home. What they don’t know is that Mother (Rebecca De Mornay) lost the house in foreclosure and that they’re actually crashing the residence of new owners (Jaime King and Frank Grillo) – who just so happen to be hosting a birthday bash.

So there’s an entire crew of hostages right off, and lots of tension springs from the material. Bousman does a fine job of juggling all the characters, giving each of them a moment or two to earn our sympathies before putting them through the brutal paces that will inevitably ensure. And while there’s never really any question as to which of them is our main character, it’s difficult to discern who will survive the proceedings. Some of the likelier candidates are taken out of the equation early on while presumed “fodder” lingers well into the third act. As such it keeps viewers on their toes, refusing to lapse into complete predictability.

As mother, Rebecca De Mornay is excellent. A psychopath struggling to stay framed inside a matriarchal stereotype, she’s not above apologizing for the brutish behavior of her boys while subsequently encouraging them to hone their killer instincts. She isn’t so much a conflicted person, rather one who’s grown accustomed to hiding her sadism beneath a veneer of “mother knows best” shtick. Her sons, Patrick John Flueger, Warren Kole and Matthew O’ Leary are lecherous and menacing sleazebags. Never quite as interesting as De Mornay’s big bad, but they’re strong villains nonetheless.

There’s a lot to like about Bousman’s Mother’s Day, should this type of film be in your wheelhouse. And Anchor Bay brings it to Blu-ray in a rock solid high definition transfer. The image quality looks to be an excellent representation of the source material: detail is perfectly fine, textures are rich and colors are vibrant. This isn’t going to be a demo disc, but it looks great. It sounds fantastic, too. Rear channels work really hard to keep the ambiance going throughout this one. Dialogue is crystal clear and sound effects pack a whallop. Overall this is a well above-average technical presentation from Anchor Bay.

Sadly, the supplementary material is almost nonexistent, the sole feature being an audio commentary by director Bousman and actor Shawn Ashmore. The good news? This is a pleasantly engaging track that offers a little bit of everything: humor, information, trivia and an overall look at the filmmaking process. Anyone looking to add Mother’s Day to their collection will find this commentary track to be an engaging two hour sit.

Mother’s Day is a solid thriller that’s anchored by a terrific performance from its star. It comes nicely assembled by Darren Lynn Bousman, who deftly captures the suspense that was so noticeably missing from some of his Saw films. An assured little slice of suburban horror that works better than you’d think, and deserves a far wider audience than it currently has. Confidently recommended.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by director Darren Lynn Bousman and star Shawn Ashmore

    Film

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    2 out of 5

    Discuss Mother’s Day in the comments section below!

  • Matt Serafini

    Author (Under the Blade, Feral), slasher movie enthusiast, N7 Operative. Plays games, watches movies, reads books. Occasionally writes about them.

    • Slasher_Diva

      Being a fan of the original Troma version of this remake I didn’t know how they could possibly re edit this keeping it somewhat true to the original yet bringing it up to date.
      They did this and more,they managed to keep the story somewhat in tact such as keeping the main characters names the same they even mentioned Queenie a few times.
      This time around they added a daughter played by the beautiful Deborah Ann Woll who also plays Jessica on True Blood’ Her character is confused and timid and more emotionally vulnerable than her brothers Ike Addley and Johnny.They added some Family drama and treachery to the victims as well which played perfectly into the plot of this story.
      Rebecca DeMornay was amazing as Mother and spoke a few lines that were a direct homage to The Hand That Rocks The Cradle such as ‘You cant take care of your child ,you can’t even keep your man’.
      The acting was good overall and it was a non stop bloody thrill ride.
      It wasn’t a splatterfest like I had heard but it is certainly violent and there are some very graphic scenes and a couple of splatters.
      There was one death scene in particular that stayed very true to the original. I’m speaking of the drain cleaner and television set…I have no clue why this wasn’t in theaters because I can envision people in the audience rooting for the hero or heroine or heroes or heroines to do to Mother what The Herione did to DeMornay’s Character, Peyton Flanders in The hand That Rocks The Cradle.It’s the best movie of this type I have seen in quite awhile.
      I bought the Blu ray and am watching it again today.

    • LSD Zombie

      I too thought the movie was great! Why this couldn’t secure a nationwide theatrical release baffles me.

    • Jon Condit

      4? I don’t know about that. A strong 3.5 I think definitely leaning to a 4. I don’t know I could be persuaded maybe. It was pretty good. Really enjoyed watching it the other night.

    • Terminal

      I’d give this four knives. What an experience.

      • Uncle Creepy

        Yeah, loved this flick. Really intense stuff!