Mother’s Day
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Shawn Ashmore
Review by Brian M. Sammons

This is NOT a remake of the 1980s sort of slasher of the same name, and I don’t care what it says. Yeah at the end credits of this movie it thanks Charles Kaufman, the writer and director of the original film, and the executive producer of this one. However this new Mother’s Day is a remake in name only, as other than a crazy momma, it has NOTHING to do with the original movie. Now, is that a bad thing? I mean, I don’t think anyone out there is going to say that the ’80s movie was great, or even all that good. So does that mean this new version must be better?

Well not necessarily, as one thing I’ve learned by watching the ton of remakes that filmmakers keep shoving down our throats is that no matter how silly, stupid, inept, or badly made the original was, it can always get worse. So what’s the case here? Is the 2010 Mother’s Day (yes, that’s when this movie was made, but it’s only coming out on disc now) an improvement over the ’80s original, or yet another remake best forgotten? Well make sure you call your momma and tell her you love her, it’s her day after all.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman, who made his name directing Saw 2, 3, and 4, seems to have decided to play it safe by not venturing too far out of his comfort zone. Yes, shades of torture porn can be seen in this story of three bad bank robbing brothers breaking into their old house after one of them is shot in their last heist. But unbeknownst to them, their momma got booted out of the house a few months back and instead they bust in on the new owners, the Sohapi family (ha, get it?) and their guests having a party. They take everyone hostage, make a handy doctor at the party work on their injured brother, and then call their momma for help.

Enter the hands down best thing about this movie: Rebecca De Mornay as the titular mother Koffin (ha, get it? GET IT, DAMN YOU, GET IT!). Rebecca is very good as the crazy lady in charge and steals the show in every scene she’s in. She’s a smart, scary lady who’s mad about her family and will do anything to get what she wants. Unfortunately De Mornay is the only good thing in this you’ve-seen-it-all-before flick. Momma and family torment the new homeowners in all sorts of ways while looking for some money that the bandit brothers supposedly mailed to their mother, but after she had lost the house.

Such “highlights” include attempted rape, boiling water poured into ears, hand bashing, and forcing various hostages to fight each other. Yawn. Oh sorry, I almost nodded off there. But seriously, I’ve seen a hundred home invasion films like this, and I found this one to be a tedious chore to sit through, even with Rebecca De Mornay knocking it out of the park with her acting. Maybe that’s partially my fault for having seen too many of these movies, but honestly I think it’s more the director and writer’s fault for happily treading the same well-worn trail and doing nothing, and I mean NOTHING, new with the premise. You notice I don’t blame the actors. While none match De Mornay’s chops, they do a capable job with what they were given to do. Too bad that what they were given was pretty damn bad.

The makers of Mother’s Day never met a suspense/thriller cliché that they didn’t like, and they do their very best to shoehorn in as many as they can into this movie. For example, does this movie have the good friends suddenly turning on each other? Yep. How about a cute, young, and sympathetic sister of the brutal Koffin family that tries to help the hostages out? You bet. What about a cop putting two and two together only to be completely ineffectual? Sure thing. Hey, how about the old chestnut where a girl gets mad at her boyfriend for not helping her when one of the bad guys gropes her, even though he had a gun in his face? Oh hell yes, that’s here too. I could go on dropping examples of such stuff we’ve all seen a thousand times, but now let’s move on to the second reason this movie was a dud: nonsensical stuff done only for the sake of the story.

This starts off right at the beginning when we see a shadowy mother Koffin (she’s shot in near total darkness so we can’t see the face of the actress standing in as a young De Mornay) going into a hospital to steal a baby. Yeah, she’s that kind of mommy. Anyway the vast amounts of stupid in this one scene alone had me rolling my eyes so much that I started to get dizzy. From the deserted hospital right out of Hallowen 2, to the inept security guard that allows momma Koffin to stroll right on by, to the same guard confronting the woman after she took a baby in a completely dark room, without ever turning on the lights or even pulling a flashlight. I have already mentioned the “oops, we didn’t know our own mother got kicked out of our house” set up that this film relies on, and I’ll skip over the “tornado proof windows” that only exist to make sure no one can get out once the hostages are locked in the basement, and I’ll get right to my favorite scene of silliness in this flick. At one point one of the bad brothers takes one of the female hostages out to an ATM to get some money. Two vapid, barely twenty-something-airheads come up behind them, also to use the ATM. The hostage tells the girls that the bad man has a gun, and then he has to make sure the two girls don’t get away to tell the police. So what does he do? If you said shoot them as they run away and then quickly make his getaway because he’s outside, in the middle of a street, next to an ATM that obviously sees a lot of traffic (as the two girls in question did show up within seconds of the killer and his hostage pulling up), then you’re wrong. No, instead he makes both girls get on their knees right there in the parking lot, throws a knife down between them, and tells them that whoever kills the other one can get to live. He then wastes a bunch of time goading them into doing it, you know; time that could be used for getting away. All this in order to prove to his hostage that it’s a dog eat dog world and blah blah blah, mwah hah hah, ain’t I so evil? Really, that bit wasn’t suspenseful or edgy or daring or brutal or thrilling or believable or anything other than mind numbingly stupid. Sadly, this movie is full of scenes like that.

As meh as this movie is, the Blu-ray from Anchor Bay isn’t much better. Sure it looks good in HD, but that’s par for the course for modern made movies released on Blu-ray days. It’s the special features, or rather the lack of them, that I’m talking about. There’s an audio commentary track with director Darren Lynn Bousman and actor Shawn Ashmore, who plays one of the bank robbing boys, and … well that’s it. That’s all you get here. What’s funny is that during the commentary, director Bousman seems to go out of his way to mention a bunch of deleted scenes, but not a one of them could be added to this rather barren Blu-ray? Uhm, why? Oh, this is a BD and DVD comb pack, if that matters to anyone out there.

Mother’s Day is not a bad movie it’s just a very derivative flick. If you’ve seen any home invasion movie or just any flick where bad people do bad things to other people, then you’ve all but seen this movie. Rebecca De Mornay is pretty darn good in it, so fans of her may want to check it out. For everone else, give it a pass.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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