Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Review : Mothers Day ( 2010 )

During the aftermath of a heist gone wrong, three brothers return to their family home, looking for sanctuary and the care only a mother can provide. What they find is that mother has moved out, and a young couple have moved in, and are partying with their middle class friends in the basement. The brothers aren't happy about this, at all. Someone call Mum.... 

Bad Remakes. Those dreaded destroyers of invention and originality. Our beautiful genre is saturated with them. I cant watch any of the untouched classics anymore without feeling that familiar shiver of fear run up my spine, as I picture my beloved and cherished films being bastardised, one by one. Its not all bad though, there HAVE been a number of remakes through the years that blow away the originals, and many that are so different from their classic counterparts that they successfully hold their own identity.

We all know the great remakes; THE THING, THE BLOB, THE FLY are generally considered to be the leaders of the pack, but in my mind there are a few more remakes that kick the originals square in the nuts. I think of THE HILLS HAVE EYES, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. All films that are arguably better than their predecessors, and at the very least are worthy of the title. In short, the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree with these bad boys.

Then theres A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2010, or Rob Zombies utter mutilation of HALLOWEEN. Among many others, its these shitfests that keep us awake at night, fearful of the coming FRIGHT NIGHT redo, and countless others we hold dear. Some remakes I find I just couldn't give a shit about because the original never really set my world alight. Its a personal thing. We all carry a lifetime of memories and emotions with us when we sit down to watch these films. Its a love/hate deal. But I think we all agree that overall, for the most part (especially when it comes to that bastard, Micheal Bay), they're simply made to cash in on our love for the originals, and fuck, but we have to see them all!

I went into this remake knowing nothing about it other than that it was based on the low budget Troma cheesefest slasher from the 80's. The original MOTHERS DAY was never a film I gave a damn about. I found it funny over a few beers, but it just wasn't my thing. I dig some of the Troma films, but I'm not what I'd call a 'fan'. So, with this in mind. going into the remake I expected at best a tongue-in-cheek homage to the cheap and cheerful slasher of old. I figured it would be a fun, mindless affair. A trashy lighthearted jaunt down memory lane, if you will.

Well you can forget all that. This MOTHERS DAY is made from the ground up. Taking only the most minuscule elements from the cult classic and re-imagining it as a violent, razor sharp home-invasion movie more akin to LAST HOUSE. There are moments of pitch black humor, but the emphasis here is on tension and hurt. Lots and lots of hurt. Its a very slick film, but manages to achieve that gritty vibe we know and love much the same way as the SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE remake did; by going for the jugular and pulling no punches. Director, Darren Lynn Bousman, has managed to create a lean, mean and very fulfilling little slice of nastiness that, for my money, far outdoes the original. To be fair though, its hard to compare the two and comparisons are best left aside. This is its own movie through and through, and apart from a few lines taken from the original here and there for the avid fans, you'd never know your watching a remake. This, for those uninitiated to the dangerous waters of horror remakes, is a very good thing.

Bousman's MOTHERS DAY doesn't fuck around. Its a ferocious little piece that grabs you from the opening seconds and manages to hold your undivided attention until the bitter end. The pacing is akin to films like The Mist, where you have minimal set up and are thrown in at the deep end. The plot strands and characters grow as the blood flows. Theres never a dull moment here. Each and every scene is either filled with tension and/or violence. I dig a slow build just as much as the next discerning horror fan, but its always a blast to be taken on a gripping ride from the get-go. Especially when it comes as such a pleasant surprise.

Theres a constant stream of brutality on show here, and its all brilliantly choreographed and played out. Effects work is stellar, with no CGI whatsoever. We open with a vicious stabbing that sets the no holds barred tone, and things get sufficiently sicker from there on in. I lost count of the number of ways to do hurt here. Pool balls, nails, and hot water are all used to bring the pain, among countless stabbing, beatings, and very graphic gunshots. This film has a large cast, and for us fans, that means one thing, plenty of fodder for our bloodlust.

That most of the characters somehow manage to find complexity and depth amid the non stop mayhem is down to two things, of course. Strong writing and strong performances. The whole cast bring full dedication to their roles, and performances range from strong to brilliant. The victims here make the usual dumb horror decisions from time to time, but its easy to let such things slide as we watch Morney's 'Mother' and her seriously fucked up kids. It's fascinating, and were it not for the gallons of blood, screaming and bodily damage on display the film could almost be viewed as a study of parenting and its perils. A great factor that adds to this is the story arc of those who own the house. I wont give anything away but strange parallels can be drawn and you may find yourself unsure who's side your on at times.

The only issue I had with the film was a few editing choices that may be the result of cuts for time. I have a feeling the uncut release will bandage these wounds, but even as they stand; they're very little to be concerned with.  A film this much fun is allowed to have a few flaws.

MOTHERS DAY was a tale never went where I thought it would go, and that was a breath of fresh air when so many horror films stumble down the well worn path, especially those that are remakes. I was second guessing myself constantly as to where the madness would take me next. Its filled with gore, violence and tension. The lead characters are very well drawn and the whole thing is paced within an inch of its life. I loved it. For my buck, this is one of the most successful remakes we've seen in recent years. Ranking alongside THE HILLS HAVE EYES and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE as a remake that not only spares us the agony of sacrilege, but actually betters the original. Horror fans can rest easy. For now.....

8 Boiled Ears out of 10

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