Blu-Review: Mother’s Day

Directed By Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring Jamie King, Rebecca De Mornay, Patrick Flueger, Shawn Ashmore and Frank Grillo

Much like Insidious did for Saw creators James Wan and Leigh Wannell, Mother’s Day proves that the further Darren Lynn Bousman (director of Saws II-IV) gets from modern horror’s most lazy and nonsensically-plotted franchise, the more promising his career becomes. A remake of 1980′s trashy Troma movie of the same name, Mother’s Day is far from a masterpiece, but a heaping helping of gut-churning tension, a solid cast and a fantastic performance from Rebecca De Mornay elevate it far above the usual gutter of cheap torture porn horror movies.

When a bank robbery goes awry, a trio of criminal siblings find themselves on the run as a tornado warning hits the Midwestern US city. With one of them shot and the cops on their trail, the brothers head for their mother’s home in hopes of laying low and finding help. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, the house now belongs to a young suburban couple (Jamie King and Frank Grillo) who’re entertaining their friends as they all hunker down in preparation for the coming storm. The three bank robbers bust in and take the group hostage as they wait for their mom to arrive, but the lives of the friends are about to be torn apart as they realise that the criminals aren’t half as scary as their twisted mother (De Mornay).

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While Bousman’s last genre efforts relied pretty much exclusively on torture porn set pieces, Mother’s Day surprisingly trades in a much more measured brand of horror. Sure, there’s more than a few instances of explosively messy gore and scenes of cringe-inducing torment, but the film relies predominantly on tension and tightly wound character scenes for it’s more effective moments. There are a few too many people in the mix for all of the cast to be fleshed out and memorable, but the script manages to sprinkle in a refreshing amount of character substance here and there. In a lot of respects, it nails the central idea that the Saw movies often shoot for and fail at, prodding at the survival instincts and capacity for selfish violence within ordinary people. But where Saw never managed to construct much of any character amidst all the Rube Goldberg traps and shoddy, convoluted plotting, Mother’s Day fuels its tension and torment by giving the characters a little more layered meat than expected.

Bousman is aided greatly by the ensemble he’s put together. For the most part, the cast are solely asked to do the standard horror movie ‘cry, scream and act traumatised’ thing, but they handle it with gusto. Much more impressive is Shawn Ashmore who, as the doctor of the group George, serves as medic-at-gunpoint to wounded criminal brother Jonny (Matt O’Leary). He gets to interact with the twisted family most, and he and De Mornay get to engage in an effective back-and-forth dynamic as George slowly starts to get inside Mother Koffin’s head. Patrick Flueger and Warren Kole deliver fittingly threatening performances as brothers Ike and Addley, while the beautiful Deborah Ann Woll is just as impressive as their sister Lydia, the most conflicted member of the criminal brood. But Rebecca De Mornay completely owns the film as cruel, calculating and manipulative Mother. She’s absolutely fantastic, bringing the same level of iconic, memorably twisted creepiness to the movie as she did The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.

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There’s a streak of misogyny and grim cruelty that’s hard to stomach at times, but if you’re made of stern stuff, then Mother’s Day is a solid horror movie that’s a few notches better than the usual horror remake fare. It’s strained under the weight of a few too many twists and an overly large stack of characters, but it’s also bolstered by an excellent and wonderfully nutty performance by Rebecca De Mornay and an impressive supporting cast. It’s far from a masterpiece, but as home invasion horror movies go, Mother’s Day is a tense and twisted film well worth checking out.

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The movie hits UK Blu-ray courtesy of Studiocanal. The film itself looks good, but isn’t overflowing with visual style, and the same’s true of the Blu-ray A/V mix; the HD transfer looks crisp, clean and problem free and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers a perfectly clear audio experience to offer up the dialogue, creepy score, gunshots and jump scares without issues. It’s nothing you’ll use to show off your system to friends, but the Blu-ray gives a solid HD experience for you to get the most out of the tension and thrills of the movie.

The extras are few, but deceptively long, though despite packing in a tonne of content, it’s all of the usual unenlightening promo fluff variety. There’s an hour’s worth of solo interviews with the cast, some on-set B-roll footage and a trailer for the film.

The Film:

The Blu-ray:

Mother’s Day is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK now.
Click here to order the Blu-ray from