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Mom and Dad was one of those movies I only watched because Nicolas Cage is in it. I was in the mood to watch him be a complete maniac, and I got that. But not even the Weather Man himself could make this 88 minute movie completely enjoyable.

The synopsis is short and sweet. Directed and written by Brian Taylor, a mysterious mass hysteria takes over parents everywhere. What do they do? Kill their own children. Carly Ryan (Anne Winters) and her little brother Josh (Zackary Arthur) are among the many kids, teens and tweens fighting to survive their parents’ sudden homicidal tendencies. 

“9/10 Kill Ratio”

I had no sympathy for Carly and, to be honest, I didn’t really care about Josh either. Maybe that says more about me than the movie, I don’t know. All I know is that they were boring and bratty and rude to their housekeeper Sun-Yi (Sharon Gee). I disliked those kids so much, I would have rooted for their parents if they weren’t just as annoying.

And sure, it is a little refreshing to get more than the perfect, happy-go-lucky suburban family. But these are not well-written characters. The suspense was running dry, the techno music was over the top and does anyone really care if the kids survive? 

That’s What It’s All About

This is not a spoiler, but the person you think is going to be resurrected in the end is totally going to be resurrected. It’s actually satisfying to watch, because he’s the only likeable character (but remember, the bar for that is lower than hell). And with all this resurrection talk, there’s a little NC throwback.

(I’m not saying this movie is in the same universe as Face Off, but I’m not not saying that. )

The best part of the movie was when Carly and Josh’s dad Brent Ryan (Nicolas Cage) has a screaming fit because you can’t cast Nicolas Cage in a movie without adding a Nicolas Cage temper tantrum for no Nicolas Cage reason. I loved watching every second of it because it made no damn sense. He’s all over the place, crying over a pool table he randomly built after getting into a fight with his wife, Kendall Ryan (Selma Blair), who thinks he bought it with money they apparently don’t have.

Instead of simply telling her he built the thing, he smashes it to pieces. All she can do is watch with tears streaming down her cheeks because she hates him and he ruins everything. Because, in the midst of a parental killing spree, it was totally necessary to include a 20-minute backstory of Nicolas Cage doing woodwork in a Misfits tee. Because him singing the Hokey Pokey while destroying his craftsmanship actually, truly made up for wasting my time. 

The Verdict 

I was disappointed Mom and Dad wasn’t as entertaining as the trailers made itself out to be. I wasn’t expecting an incredible, life-altering movie. Maybe that’s my fault for expecting better. Maybe it’s because it involves a mom and dad trying to kill their children?

All that said, I think this movie is somewhat worth watching, if only because there are funny parts and the concept is unique. I do like how the origin of the mass hysteria was of less importance than the children trying to survive. Considering the runtime and everything else the story had to include (pool table woodworking aside), that was a good call. 

Is this a great movie? Not really. Actually, not at all. But maybe you’ll enjoy it. It is a pretty memorable bloody mess and definitely something you can eat a whole pizza to.

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Because we know you are interested, here are some more Nic Cage horror movies we’ve covered.

CourtCourt is a writer, horror enthusiast, and may or may not be your favorite human-eating houseplant.

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Movies n TV

Horror Noire, a Film Review

Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”

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Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.

As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.

The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.

Woman and man wearing a vote for candidate shirt, scared of something off screne
Image from “Sundown” Directed by Kimani Ray Smith

What I Like

Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.

My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.

However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.

Woman listening to a preacher amidst a crowd
Image from “Fugue State” directed by Rob Greenlea

What I Dislike

As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.

Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, Silenced

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Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.

Rodney Burford in Dahmer

And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.

Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.

Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship. 

Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.

Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar. 

At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.

Then, of course, things go bad. 

One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.

If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.

This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today. 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Mandrake, a Film Review

Mandrake is a 2022 supernatural horror directed by Lynne Davison and written by Matt Harvey, starring Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty.

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Mandrake is a 2022 supernatural horror directed by Lynne Davison and written by Matt Harvey. This film boasts a cast that includes Deirdre Mullins, Derbhle Crotty, and Paul Kennedy. It is currently available for subscribers in DirectTV, Shudder, Amazon Prime, or AMC+.

Cathy Madden (Deirdre Mullins) is a probation officer tasked with the most vilified case in her town, Mary Laidlaw (Derbhle Crotty). When a child goes missing, all eyes turn to the infamous Bloody Mary. Cathy, always believing in the best of people, tries to protect Mary. But evidence begins to mount, and Cathy finds herself in increasing danger.

Derbhle Crotty as Mary Laidlaw
In the forest
Derbhle Crotty as Mary Laidlaw

What I Like

Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty add weight to the film in their performances. Cathy proves resilient against the challenges she faces, while Mary can make any actions intimidating.
To not spoil anything, the ending is bittersweet in the best of ways, showing Cathy grow and mend relationships.

The atmosphere around Mary Laidlaw brings about the intimidation that earns the nickname Bloody Mary. It becomes easier to see why a town would fear this woman as we find her motives sinister.

Mandrake Cover Art: A mandrake behind Deirdre Mullins' Cathy Madden
Deirdre Mullins as Cathy Madden

What I Dislike

While there may be external magical elements, I found people obeyed Mary Laidlaw a little too easily for a vilified woman. There wasn’t enough for me to be convinced she intimidated them to action or magically charmed them. Or perhaps the performances felt underwhelmingly passive?

There was an irritating moment where a stalker helped save the day. The assistance is minor, but it still irritates me.

The daytime scenes of the film are bland. Perhaps it’s intentional, but the night scenes are stunning, making the contrast greater. While this film focuses on its night scenes, I couldn’t understand why it looked so bland, and sometimes poor quality, in the day.

Kraken eating a boat icon for Zeth M. Martinez
Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Mandrake can be a frightful enjoyment, especially when set at night where the details work. However, many elements left me wanting more or better. If you’re looking for a witchy tale, I’d say there are better options, but Mandrake can keep you entertained.
2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

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