Brian Taylor, one half of the filmmaking team Neveldine and Taylor (best known for the Crank movies), makes his solo debut with Mum and Dad, a twisted, firecracker of a movie that doesn’t really have much purpose, but it doesn’t really need one.
Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair play two upper middle-class, suburban parents who live in a nice house in a nice neighbourhood and drive SUVS. He has a job he doesn’t like and she’s a stay-at-home mum. They have two kids, a teen daughter and a younger son, who are pretty typical, too. They use their phones too much and lie to their parents’ faces. It’s a typical Hollywood-brand family.
Then, out of nowhere, some kind of signal is released and parents everywhere start killing kids. But not just any kids. Parents instantly have the urge to only, specifically, kill their kids. Brutally.
The simple premise makes for a relatively simple movie overall. There are a few supporting characters who pop in and out of the story but, basically, everything is focused on Mum, Dad, daughter and, to a lesser extent, son.
However, Taylor, who also wrote the film, adds a lot of flashbacks that give the characters some depth (and helpfully pad out the run time), illustrating the functional and dysfunctional parts of the relationships between parents and children. Unfortunately, anytime the movie goes off on one of these introspective tangents, the movie falters. It gets away from the compact, crazy story at hand; thankfully, Taylor always puts his foot back on the gas very, very quickly.
Now, if adults murdering children of all ages (and we do mean of all ages) sounds appealing to you, you’ll get your money’s worth in Mum and Dad. It’s a twisted, violent movie, with plenty of gross murders, jump-out-of-your-seat moments, and crazy, Grand A over-the-top Nic Cage acting. Several songs in the movie are juxtaposed against things that are so messed up, you may never hear those songs the same way again.
And if you like that kind of thing — i.e. ultra-violent cinema done with a knowing wink — you’ll really love Mum and Dad. It doesn’t explain too much and it doesn’t have a particularly satisfying ending, but it’s fun, weird, and disturbing all the way through. Just don’t expect anything else.