With the critically acclaimed Mom and Dad now playing in cinemas across the UK, we decided to talk to director Brian Taylor about everything from how the film came about to how he found the experience of reuniting with Nicolas Cage.
Before going solo, Taylor and his buddy Mark Neveldine bought us action classics including the Crank series, Gamer, and the hugely underrated Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which starred Cage as the demonic Johnny Blaze.
Mom and Dad is Taylor’s first solo feature, and also stars Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, and Lance Henriksen. We enjoyed the film in our review, so if you live in the UK, you should definitely catch it on the big screen.
Dread Central: Hi Brian. It’s great to talk to you. I really enjoyed Mom and Dad, and also your earlier films like Crank and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
Brian Taylor: Thank you!
DC: So, I’d like to talk about Nicolas Cage…
BT: So talk about him!
DC: This was your second time working with him, and he was phenomenal.
BT: I think he’s gonna get a lot of praise for this movie. I’d wanted to work with him again after Ghost Rider, and this role, he was the first person I went to. And I think this is really some of his best work.
And Selma Blair, I think this was the best work she’s ever done. I think people are gonna be really impressive by her performance in this movie.
DC: The premise of this film, about parents killing their children because of an epidemic, it’s pretty dark. Can you talk about that?
BT: Well, a lot of people who have kids, they regret having kids, so I wanted to make a film about parents killing their kids. And this idea hasn’t really been done before, so it’s something new, and very psychological, in a way that wouldn’t usually be explored. Because all parents want to kill their kids at one point (laugh).
DC: And we should also talk about the pool table scene…
BT: The pool table scene was the catalyst of the movie, because it kind of shows the pent up anger that many people around that age have. I think Nic’s acting in that scene was amazing. Nic and Selma in the movie, they’re punk rock underneath, and they had these dreams, but then they had kids, and that of set their lives off in a different direction. So the pool table scene is really them venting their anger because their lives didn’t go the way they envisioned.
DC: The scene showing the riot at the school, that must have been pretty difficult to film? It’s the biggest scale part of the movie.
BT: That scene was very difficult to film, but I think parents really wanted to have the chance to finally attack their kids (laughs). We only had one day to shoot it, and the weather in Louisville, Kentucky is really unpredictable, so we weren’t sure how it was going to go down. But I think in the end, it’s probably one of the standouts of the movie. Like the Chinatown scene in Crank, its probably the scene you’ll remember most.
DC: There were a lot of quick cuts in the film, which I understand is your trademark style?
BT: When it comes to watching movies, I could easily sit through a three hour film. But when it comes to actually making them, I have a short attention span, so I try to be very quick, I try not to do long takes. I get bored when things go too slow, because of my ADD, so I try to keep everything moving fast.
DC: Was the film supposed to be a political commentary?
BT: In what way?
DC: Well, with all the current political tensions making everyone nervous and afraid, was that something you wanted to tap into?
BT: Well, no not really. It was a film about society and parenthood, but it wasn’t overtly political. I don’t think I set out to make a political film.
DC: Did you meet a lot of resistance to the film?
BT: Oh sure, we met resistance every stop of the way with the idea. But like I said about the Chinatown scene in Crank, if you think you have a good idea, you have to stick with it and fight to get it made. There was also a lot of resistance to the idea of not explaining the nature of the epidemic, but I didn’t want to go into details of why it was happening, it just was.
We met a lot of resistance to the Chinatown scene in Crank, because they kept saying that it would be too offensive and people wouldn’t get it, so we had to fight to keep it in. We ended shooting it on the last day, and it became one of the best known scenes in he movie.
DC: The kids in the film were also great.
BT: Anne and Zack, they both gave incredible performances, they were so happy to be in the movie, and they were really gave it everything. Zack was a real method actor. He was scared to work with Nic, because, y’know, Nic’s a big guy, so whenever he would go crazy, he would be really frightening to be around, so Zack would always look at me with these big eyes as if to ask “is he gonna hurt me?” But he had the time of his life making the film.
DC: With the epidemic in the film being global, why did you decide to focus on one family?
BT: If you make a film about the moon crashing into the Earth, sure, everyone’s gonna die, but there’s not really much of a connection. So I thought that by focusing on one family, we were really able to build up this connection. Because most big movies today just end by showing a city being destroyed. And that’s one of the reason’s why I think Night of the Living Dead worked so well, because it focused on a group of small characters. So we focused on just one family, and I think the connection was there, especially because of the acting.
DC: Do you plan to work with Nicholas Cage again? By the way, I love the fire pissing scene in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
BT: (Laughs): Oh man, I would really like work with him again. He’s such a great actor and a fun guy to work with.
DC: And you’re also working as show runner of Syfy’s “Happy!”
BT: Today was actually the first day of the show runner’s room for season 2, so I’m gonna be in Happy Land for the rest of the year.
Mom and Dad Official Synopsis
When a mass hysteria of unknown origin causes parents within a quiet suburban town to turn violently on their own children, Carly Ryan (Anne Winters) and brother Josh (Zackary Arthur) have to fight to survive a vicious onslaught from their own parents (Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair).
Trapped in their own home with their crazed mom and dad, Carly and Josh are forced to defend themselves against the very people that have cared for them their entire lives.