Mother's Day (Blu-ray / DVD)
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.
3 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5