DVD Review: Mother’s Day (18)

(Studiocanal, �15.99 DVD, �19.99 Blu-ray, �9.99 iTunes)

ALTHOUGH billed as a loose remake of the banned 1980 Troma classic of the same name, Saw sequel director Darren Lynn Bousman doesn’t seem to have used much from the original, which was about female backpackers taking revenge on degenerate rednecks following the usual brutality which was commonplace in horror films of this era.

Rather than updating this plot, the remake instead offers another take on fugitive convicts seeking refuge in suburbia, and pulls in various elements from contemporary horror flicks to create a composite product which owes more to the current trend for “torture porn” than 1980s exploitation.

Brothers Ike, Addley, and a wounded Johnny Koffin (Patrick John Flueger, Warren Kole, and Matt O’Leary) are united by their incompetence, psychotic tendencies and domination by their overbearing “Mama” (Rebecca De Mornay).

After busting out of jail, the brothers were expecting to find their mother (Rebecca De Mornay) awaiting them in their childhood home, providing a welcome sanctuary until the heat dies down, but discover she has been driven out by foreclosure and the house is now owned by a young professional couple (Frank Grillo and Jaime King) who are in the middle of a birthday celebration with a group of guests.

Taking the partygoers hostage, the three mentally unstable criminals contact their mother for help, who promptly arrives with her only daughter (True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll), and takes command of the situation.

While trying to arrange her family’s escape over the border into Canada, mummy-dearest eggs her submissive offspring towards new depths of depravity, while guilty secrets exposed amongst their hostages set them against each other.

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De Mornay is as reliable as ever, years after she shot to fame as the psychotic nanny in The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, and easily outacts the rest of the cast in her role as the dangerously warped “Mama”, but unfortunately she is let down by a sub-standard script which relies more on brutal violence that psychological suspense.

Bousman takes obvious delight in focusing on the suffering of the gang’s victims, but by emphasising their selfish and shallow ways drains away any audience sympathy.

Apart from De Mornay, the rest of the cast are drawn from various TV shows and movies including 24, The 4400, the X-Men trilogy, Die Hard 4 and Battlestar Galactica, and are relatively unmemorable.

Fortunately the budget is such that the moments of gore and wanton violence are technically adept, but too many moments of melodrama and ridiculous scripting rob them of any real impact. The tone is relentlessly serious, with little in the way of humour, and succeeds in creating real tension between the protagonists.

Of course, the whole thing is very predictable, and nobody’s going to walk away from watching it feeling their life has been changed for the better (or worse). That said, it’s a reasonably decent horror which should be considered on its own merits rather than being judged as a remake of something from more than 30 years ago.

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