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Mother's Day (2010)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/8/2012

All Ratings out of



Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/7/2012

We all have our favorite genres, or at least ones which we don't mind. I like psychological thrillers, and I certainly don't have any aversion to violence in films. But, when we dig into sub-genres, things aren't always peachy. I don't like home invasion movies, as they are always the same. Movies like Funny Games and The Strangers show a group of menacing, usually armed people breaking into a house and threatening the inhabits. The innocents get pushed around and tortured until they eventually snap and fight back. The formula is always the same and it simply gets old. Mother's Day, a remake in name only, takes all of these hackneyed ideas and adds just enough to them to make things interesting.

As Mother's Day opens, Beth (Jaime King) and Daniel (Frank Grillo) are throwing a party with their friends, Annette (Briana Evigan), George (Shawn Ashmore), Julie (Lisa Marcos), Treshawn (Lyriq Bent), Dave (Tony Nappo), Gina (Kandyse McClure), and Melissa (Jessie Rusu). They are having a great time in the basement, so they don't hear the Koffin Brothers -- Ike (Patrick John Flueger), Addley (Warren Kole), and Johnny (Matt O'Leary) -- break in. The men have been involved in a botched bank robbery and Johnny has been shot. Why did they pick this house? Because they used to live there and they don't understand why there stuff is gone and where their mother is. The Brothers quickly break up the party and take everyone hostage, while George, a doctor, is forced to help Johnny. Ike makes a phone call and soon, the boy's mother, Natalie (Rebecca De Mornay), and their sister, Lydia (Deborah Ann Woll), arrives. Natalie immediately takes over the situation and assures everyone that they will be safe if they cooperate. Natalie and Ike begin to prepare an escape plan, despite the fact that a tornado is looming. As the night wears on, and the Brothers begin to torture the guests, everyone nears their breaking point.

The problem with most home invasion movies is that they are pointless. The villains break in and terrorize a group of strangers, but the reasons for why this is happening are typically vague at best. The bad guys are either faceless or cartoonishly violent psychopaths who are so over-the-top as to be unbelievable. From older movies like The Last House on the Left or The House on the Edge of the Park to more modern things like Panic Room, the sub-genre rarely changes.

So, the fact that Mother's Day actually changes some of these things automatically puts it ahead of the curve. In the audio commentary found on the Disc, Director Darren Lynn Bousman relates that the movie was taken from an original script entitled Wichita which was combined with some references and homages to the 1980 Troma film Mother's Day, and it's easy to assume that the elements from Wichita. First of all, when the Brothers break into the house, we automatically assume that they chose it at random, but we quickly learn that they arrived expecting to find their mother there, having no idea that she'd been evicted. When "Mother" arrives, the movie takes a turn. Natalie walks a fine line between being insane, but also being a gentle and polite woman who will not tolerate misbehavior from her children. It's very interesting to see how these menacing men cower before this unassuming woman. We get the feeling that Natalie truly doesn't want to see anyone get hurt, but she's also in a desperate situation and she'll do anything to keep her children safe.

Having said that, Mother's Day still includes all of the trappings of the genre. We see the party-goers get tortured and eventually killed and we root for them to fight back. Now, the movie also wants us to feel for Natalie and her family, but I didn't. In movies like this, I just want the hostages to fight back, and as with any other film of this ilk, waiting for this to occur weighs Mother's Day down. This always complicates these movies, but Mother's Day runs for 2 hours, so we do a lot of waiting. Once the movie reaches a certain plateau, we simply watch failed escape attempts and botched revolutions and wait for the finale. And we get the cliched "policeman comes to the house" scene. In Bousman's defense, he's done a good job of balancing out the amount of violence here, as some scenes are graphic, while others are surprisingly subdued.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman's career has been on an odd path lately. After hitting the ground running with Saw II, III, and IV, he suffered a setback with the odd Repo: The Genetic Opera. Then he made Mother's Day and 11-11-11 back-to-back and both films had trouble making it to screens in the U.S. While 11-11-11 is flawed, Mother's Day has the guts to take a very tired kind of movie and try some new things with it. The cliched aspects certainly jump out here, but the character development and the logical reasons for some of the plot points really accelerate the film. Mother's Day doesn't change the home invasion genre, but at least it makes it watchable.

Mother's Day never told me what he did with that coffee can lid on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no intrusive grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The movie has been shot in a somewhat natural style, so the colors and the lighting remain fairly neutral throughout. The level of detail is good and the image is never soft. The depth is impressive as well. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get some nice surround sound effects here, most notably during scenes in the basement where we can hear things happening upstairs. The stereo effects are nicely detailed and the subwoofer effects emphasize every punch and gunshot.

The lone extra on the Mother's Day Blu-ray Disc is an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Director Darren Lynn Bousman and Actor Shawn Ashmore. This talk isn't as good as the one on 11-11-11, but I still like how honest Bousman is on his commentaries.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long