It isn't difficult to figure out the point of this deranged movie: Parents love their children, and they also want to murder them sometimes. With Mom & Dad, writer/director Brian Taylor imagines such a scenario as fodder for a psycho-thriller where a killing-spree fantasy comes to life, thanks to a mysterious influence in the static of a television set. Taylor's tone is both comic, with more than a hint of the satirical, and frantic, with his and cinematographer Daniel Pearl's aesthetic a frenetic blur of motion that is entirely fitting for this material. All the pieces are in place for a comic-horror romp that happens to have a brain in its head.
The set-up is sound: The Ryan family, including father Brent (Nicolas Cage), mother Kendall (Selma Blair), daughter Carly (Anne Winters), and son Josh (Zackary Arthur), is constantly at loggerheads with each other. Carly, much to Kendall's chagrin, spends whatever time she isn't texting her best friend on some form of social media chatting with other friends. Josh, to the annoyance of Brent, leaves his playthings strewn about the floor.
That strange static pervades TV screens, seemingly leading to a disaster scenario in which teens and younger children are being brutally and senselessly murdered by their parents. A popular TV doctor warns of a similarity between this situation and that of piglets being killed by their parents during an overpopulation event. A new mother attempts to crush her infant almost at the moment of birth. A riot of parents invades the high school Carly attends, and soon she is forced into her parents' basement as they bring out a couple of tools to fulfill the needs of the strange influence.
The insanity of Taylor's vision is the most compelling thing here, from a flashback to Brent destroying a billiards table (while singing "The Hokey-Pokey," no less) to the uses it finds for a Sawzall electric blade and a meat hammer to the game performances from Cage and Blair (both of whom, but especially Cage, commit entirely to the gimmick) to the broad strokes of the premise itself. Eventually, though, the ideas give in to formula, as the climax explodes into a rote stalk-and-slash affair (Brent's parents, played by Lance Henriksen and Marilyn Dodds Frank, eventually show up for obvious reasons) and the film ends mid-thought. Such things are distractions from the main goal, which means, perhaps, that the point of Mom & Dad is elusive, after all.
Selma Blair (Kendall Ryan), Nicolas Cage (Brent Ryan), Anne Winters (Carly Ryan), Zackary Arthur (Josh Ryan), Robert T. Cunningham (Damon), Lance Henriksen (Mel Ryan), Marilyn Dodds Frank (Barbara Ryan).
Directed and written by Brian Taylor.
Rated R (disturbing horror violence, language throughout, sexual content/nudity, teen drug use).
Released in select cities on January 19, 2018.