Review: ‘Mother’s Day’

Undistinguished apart from Rebecca De Mornay's performance as an unhinged mama, grisly pic centers around a yuppie couple whose suburban home is invaded by the severely dysfunctional family that recently lived there.

The perils of buying foreclosed properties are made painfully clear in “Mother’s Day,” loosely based on Charles Kaufman’s 1980 Troma film of the same name. Undistinguished apart from Rebecca De Mornay’s performance as an unhinged mama, pic centers around a yuppie couple whose suburban home is invaded by the severely dysfunctional family that recently lived there. Grisly pic from Darren Lynn Bousman (director of the second, third and fourth “Saw” movies) is at last hitting some European screens following a tour of horror fests, but with no domestic release in sight, ancillary reps its best chance for bloody dividends.

After a hospital-set prologue in which a baby is snatched by a woman clad in nurse’s uniform, pic cuts to the suburban home of Daniel (Frank Grillo) and Beth Sohapi (Jaime King), who are hosting a party for seven of their friends. In stumble the Koffin brothers — Ike (Patrick Flueger), Addley (Warren Kole) and heavily bleeding Johnny (Matt O’Leary) — seeking refuge after a botched bank robbery. Since the men had recently been incommunicado with their mother (Rebecca De Mornay) and sister Lydia (Deborah Ann Woll), who both soon arrive on the scene, they don’t realize that their old house has new occupants.

Brisk setup economically primes audience to expect the usual carnage, as guests variously fight back or meekly accept what’s coming to them. The sole relatively original element in Scott Milam’s script comes courtesy of the mother character, played with soft-spoken fortitude by De Mornay; vigorously taking charge of the messy situation, she chides eldest son Ike for his mishandling, reproaches loose cannon Addley for his uncivil treatment of his hostages, and comforts poor baby Johnny.

Cowed Lydia, evidently kept on a tight leash by the family matriarch, catches the sympathetic interest of guest George (Shawn Ashmore), a doctor ordered to tend to Johnny. Stakes are raised when it emerges that the Koffin sons had been mailing cash to their family at this address: Ma needs the money to get her children safely across the border. (An impending tornado is less effectively exploited.)

Beth and Ike go out on a cash-finding mission, providing a welcome break from the home-invasion setting, and cuing up a nice cat-and-mouse setpiece at a dry-cleaner shop. Along the way, however, pic’s uncertainty of tone becomes apparent. Most of the action unfolds in a vaguely recognizable real world, but when a nervous Beth is disturbed at an ATM by two young women who realize something’s wrong, “Mother’s Day” devolves into the sort of sadistic game-playing that would be more at home in the “Saw” movies with which Bousman established his reputation.

In general, any scene that doesn’t involve the quietly scary, evidently psychotic Mrs. Koffin represents screen time wasted. This latest addition to the Hollywood canon of really bad parents is the film’s only memorable character.

Tech credits are all fine, although some of the individual action elements lack clarity. Epilogue, featuring a second baby-snatching, sets up a possible sequel, should the market require one.

Mother's Day


An Optimum Releasing (in U.K.) release of a Lighttower Entertainment presentation in association with Widget Films and Sierra Pictures of a Rat Entertainment and Genre Co. production. (International sales: Sierra Affinity, Los Angeles.) Produced by Brett Ratner, Richard Saperstein, Jay Stern, Brian Witten. Executive producers, Curtis Leopardo, Jonathan Zucker, Jessie Rusu, Andrew Golov, Kyle Bornais, Charles Kaufman, Lloyd Kaufman, Stephen Kessler, Stuart Berton. Co-producers, Shara Kay, George Presman. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. Screenplay, Scott Milam, based on "Mother's Day" by Charles Kaufman, Warren Leight.


Camera (color, widescreen), Joseph White; editor, Hunter M. Via; music, Bobby Johnston; music supervisor, Jonathan McHugh; production designer, Anthony Ianni; art director, Rejean Labrie; set decorator, Craig Sandells; costume designer, Leslie Kavanagh; sound (Dolby Digital), Leon Johnson; supervising sound editor, Mark L. Mangino; sound designer, Jeff Pitts; re-recording mixers, Todd Beckett, Kelly Vandever, Stanley Kastner; visual effects supervisor, Jon Campfens; visual effects, Switch VFX; stunt coordinator, Bobby C. King; associate producers, Greg Martin, Don Zorbas, Jordan Lange; assistant director, Richard O'Brien-Moran; casting, Lindsey Hayes Kroeger, Stephanie Gorin. Reviewed at Optimum Releasing, London, June 9, 2011. Running time: 112 MIN.


Mother - Rebecca De Mornay
Beth Sohapi - Jaime King
Ike Koffin - Patrick Flueger
Daniel Sohapi - Frank Grillo
Addley Koffin - Warren Kole
George - Shawn Ashmore
Lydia Koffin - Deborah Ann Woll
Johnny Koffin - Matt O'Leary
Annette - Briana Evigan
Julie - Lisa Marcos
Treshawn - Lyriq Bent
Dave - Tony Nappo
Gina - Kandyse McClure
Melissa - Jessie Rusu

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