If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time hoping for a good horror movie. Most horror movies we get these days are the endless sequels to movies that weren’t all that scary to begin with, new additions to old franchises that seem tired right from the start, and some just straight up terrible movies. Last year, we were lucky enough to have two great ones: It and the (absolutely amazing) Get Out. Now, I’m not saying that Mom and Dad is as good as the best of 2017, but if you’re looking for a fun horror movie to watch this weekend, I heartily recommend Mom and Dad. It’s one of the most fun horror movies I’ve seen in a long time.
The premise of Mom and Dad will seem pretty familiar. At it’s core, it’s another zombie movie. The zombies here are the rage-filled, 28 Days Later kind of zombies. They appear to be infected through a television signal of some kind, but the movie never spells that out. Actually, here they’re a little worse than 28 Days later; here, they plan, communicate and coordinate in intelligent ways. However, the big hook here is that these zombies are focused on a single target: their own children. The infected parents focus on killing just their own children with a Wile E. Coyote level intensity. While we see much of the town falling to the disease, the movie really focuses on two kids being hunted by their parents in their own home. As others have noted, just imagine Home Alone with much higher stakes.
The movie makes a number of smart choices, starting with its runtime. This is a concise 83 minute experience without any lengthy dialogues or long will-they-shoot-or-won’t-they sequences. We get a few flashbacks but these are handled deftly and provide some necessary context. The movie also treats the murders with a great deal of tact. Seeing children murdered by their parents would be difficult to watch and here the camera cuts away quickly so that we don’t see the most violent occurrences. The music, too, is uniquely inspired from the starting credits straight through the end. Above all, the movie does a great job balancing horror with humor, never taking its premise too seriously or staging its violence too dramatically. It feels like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland that way. If you loved those movies, you’ll like this one too.
But the best thing about this movie is the casting of the parents. If you thought of an actor to play a wild, rage-filled middle aged man (and you couldn’t get 1970’s Jack Nicholson), you couldn’t think of a more fun choice than Nicholas Cage. And he seems to be having a lot of fun here. His role is extremely physical and his acting is way over the top, but it’s perfect for this role. He’s also well matched with Selma Blair as the also infected mom. She sees much of the outbreak occurring before falling victim to the infection herself. She’s great, but the movie really picks up when Cage and Blair finally team up to hunt their kids. Watching them conspire to kill their children in their house shouldn’t be this much fun but it definitely is (there’s one more bit of fun casting in the movie but I’m going to try to keep that as a surprise).
So this weekend go see Mom and Dad. It’s a fun little movie that deserves a wide audience. See it for the performances, the casting, the music, and zombies. This is the first fun horror movie of 2018.