Step Away From Your Children: "Mom & Dad" gleefully depraved and bonkers with Nicolas Cage at his Cage-iest

Mom & Dad (2018)
83 min., rated R.

Known for being one-half of filmmaking team Neveldine/Taylor who made the hyperkinetic, stylishly gonzo “Crank” movies and directed Nicolas Cage before in 2011’s “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” writer-director Brian Taylor goes batshit-crazy all on his own in “Mom & Dad.” In this horror film with a subversive, gleefully mean spirit, the entire concept of parenthood—bringing life to a child and keeping them safe from harm’s way—gets completely reversed and taken to mighty extremes. Functioning as the flip side of 2015’s “Cooties,” where a viral outbreak turned bratty kids into blister-infested, teacher-eating zombies, “Mom & Dad” dares to just go for it, being every bit as depraved and bonkers as it sounds.

The Ryans only look like an All-American family. The patriarch, Brent (Nicolas Cage), is stuck in a soul-sucking job and his wife, Kendall (Selma Blair) left the workforce 16 years ago to devote her life to raising their two children, high school sophomore Carly (Anne Winters) and pre-teen Joshua (Zackary Arthur). Carly communicates more with her phone than she does with her parents when she’s not stealing cash from her mother’s purse, and Joshua sometimes annoys his father by keeping his toys out. Over the course of one afternoon around the time kids get out of school, something triggers inside all parents who find the insatiable desire to murder their offspring like primal savages in the animal kingdom. It’s only a matter of time before Carly and Joshua become victimized when Mom and Dad get home early.

“Mom & Dad” sets its darkly comic tone during the ’70s-influenced credit sequence, a succession of still images of the cast cued to a cover of Dusty Springfield’s “Yesterday When I Was Young,” along with a seemingly innocent moment where a mother buckles her young child in a car seat in the back and then exiting the vehicle, which is parked across the train tracks. Writer-director Brian Taylor imagines a B-movie premise set in cookie-cutter suburbia that sometimes feels like a short stretched to 83 minutes, but he delivers enough kinetic energy and wildly nutty mayhem to warrant feature length, while still knowing when to draw the line without taking the proceedings into complete tastelessness. To read the rest of the review, go to Diabolique Magazine.

Grade: B -