Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall (Selma Blair) are ordinary, suburban parents to Carly and Josh (Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur) - but one day, a mass hysteria breaks out which turns seemingly normal parents into crazed maniacs bent on murdering their own offspring.


 


A film like Mom And Dad is the kind that you're not entirely sure if you should take as a piece of horror-comedy, or as some kind of art film. The sheer level of insanity that rips through it is so potent, so overbearing, that it's hard to approach without some kind of warning label attached. Granted, the trailers for it all outline the simple enough plot - parents go crazy, try to kill their children, Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair from one-half of the directing duo behind Crank. For all intents and purposes, Mom And Dad works like Crank - all deranged editing, abrasive music throughout, simplistic plot - but imagine that forced into a sitcom and you're somewhere to understanding Mom And Dad.


As a general rule of thumb, if Nicolas Cage is involved in a film, you can count on him having a freak-out at some point and bouncing off the wall - and for 80-odd minutes, it's Nicolas Cage doing just that. It isn't anyone we haven't seen already, and you can look at something like Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant remake to get the most distilled, refined version of it - but here, it's outright chaos. Paired with Cage is Selma Blair, who really is the scene-stealer throughout the film, she manages to take some of the rougher edges off the dynamic and give it a more polished feel - as far as it goes for something like this. The film's editing does a smart job of displaying the parents before and after their transformation - and finds that, when you drill right down to it, all that's there is merely a removal of inhibition. While they both love their children, there's also the grinding reality that they can be ungrateful little shits who take your best years from you.


The two kids, played by Winters and Arthur, don't get much in the way of character development as they're essentially the engine of the whole film and it's here that much of the film's hilarity ensues. At first, they're berserk and screaming, hurling themselves across their idyllic home but when the kids lock themselves in the basement, it turns into a sort of Panic Room-esque scenario. The film then pauses for a flashback scene with Cage and Blair discussing how their personalities have disappeared and parenthood has effectively replaced their lives, before it's back to the insanity with Lance Henriksen appearing out of nowhere with a bowie knife.


For all the insanity that Mom And Dad has, there really are some fascinating ideas at work - how children are effectively a reminder of our own mortality, the nature of giving up everything to support them - but these are trampled by the lunacy of Nicolas Cage braying like a donkey with a homestore buzz-saw in hand. Director Brian Taylor knows how to make a truly arresting, assaulting visual palette and the adrenaline just pumps right through the film before the end crashes in.


It's a silly watch, an entertaining one, but if you're not gone on Nicolas Cage in full-on insane mode, this isn't for you.