Mom and Dad Rocks 'Till the Bitter End (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Reading this blog, you might think I mostly just watch old horror movies.  Actually, I watch more new ones than old films, it's just that they rarely grab me.  Not with a "get off my lawn"/ "modern horror sucks" kind of mentality, but more like watching episode after episode of various Law & Order series.  They're usually fine, decently made, but if one or a hundred of them disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn't even register.  Usually professional looking, going through the motions fine enough (though, of course, many are also exceptionally stupid), but generic unaffecting stories with no exciting new ideas or anything.  You know, nothing that makes me say, "oh man, I need that in my collection!"  So I guess you don't wind up seeing a lot of brand new horror on this site.  But here you go, guys; Mom and Dad is one that made me sit up and say, "oh man, I need that in my collection!"
I didn't race to see Mom and Dad, because it didn't feel like a film I needed to see.  I was over the novelty of Nicholas Cage doing freaky over-the-top wig outs before "the bees" was even a meme.  To me, The Wicker Man remake was just the film that made me finally give up on the promise of Neil LaBute.  And the legacy of Crank 2, Gamer and Ghost Rider 2 was did more to ward me away than draw me in.

And on top of all that, I'd already bought into the hype of Cooties and felt seriously let down.  Not that I'd call that movie terrible, but it felt more like a lame sitcom than the gonzo, envelope pushing tale of zombie children run amok that we were sold.  It turned out to be the Halloween episode of Parks and Rec, not a movie.  Remember they had the guy from 30 Rock doing all those hack effeminate gay man in the closet jokes?  Oy vey.  But even though Mom and Dad really has the inverse premise - adults killing children instead of children killing adults - they both had heavy 70s/80s throwback in the marketing, and it all just felt like another false horror movie promise.  But no, not this time.  Mom and Dad is everything it presents itself as, and more besides.
Because, look, I like Crank.  It's not a favorite; I don't own it on disc.  But it's definitely a film I'd recommend at least seeing once.  It's entertaining in all the ways it's trying to be.  But Mom and Dad, for all the ridiculousness of its premise, where a mysterious virus drives all parents to murder their children, actually has some weight to it.  It's the Crank guys back to deliver another wheelbarrow of cheap thrills, but this time with an actual story to tell, too.  It's not exactly subtle, but it is grounded.  And Nicholas Cage actually gives a solid performance, not just the barking trope you'd expect going into this picture.  The same can be said for his co-stars Selma Blair and Lance Henriksen.  Everybody's pretty great in this, even the kids.  And I've seen the people knock the ending, but I personally don't understand that.  I thought it was perfect.
And I'm not a big fan of nostalgia branding (we get it, Stranger Things, the 80s were full of 80s pop culture), but Mom and Dad has a brilliant 70s-style credits sequence.  And this movie doesn't go as cartoonish as Crank, which thankfully allows for the violence and horror to have a little more impact.  Like the original Night Of the Living Dead, they don't divert a lot of energy into pseudoscience or complicated explanations for the inciting crisis that ensues.  A few background characters speculate for a line or two, but this film just dives right into the heart of the matter and never comes up for air.  Not that this film is perfect... it's got a silky, almost 35mm look to most of it, until it conspicuously switches to GoPro footage for some high action scenes, and I just wanted to say, guys, you already made Crank, let Mom and Dad be Mom and Dad.  But they get past most of that pretty early on.
A more important criticism would be that the underlying themes work, but some of the writing is still a little weak.  Like, rather than completely writing from life experience, some younger writers are just borrowing from past on-screen marriage issues they've watched on TV.  Some of those family flashback moments ring a little false.  And the characters are clearly meant to be genuine and well-rounded, so we care about their conflicts, which they mostly pull off.  But they also go for some cheap laughs that feel like they're trying to parody middle class life rather than relate to it.  I'm thinking about some early bits where Selma Blair mistakenly confuses her Chinese maid for Korean or her shallow best friend at the gym.  She does so much good work making you sincerely relate to the midlife crisis they're undergoing in other scenes, and they risk throwing that away for easy satire.  But none of their little misfires are enough to undo all that they surprisingly get right in this picture.
2018 US Momentum DVD on top; 2018 US Momentum blu-ray bottom.
If you missed it, Momentum Pictures released this film on DVD and blu-ray a month or so ago as either a combo pack or just the DVD by itself.  Presented in a very wide 2.40:1, the aspect ratio kinda jives with the more classic, filmic style the directors were probably going for here.  But the look of scenes varies shot to shot, or at least scene to scene.  Like compare the walls and background in the first set of shots, where it almost looks like natural film grain, to the flat, plain skies in the second shot, which wind up looking more digital.  But that's all down to the original filmmaking, I'm sure, than any issues with the home video transfer, which is all perfectly fine.  You can see a clear boost in sharpness and clarity between the SD DVD and HD blu, just like you'd expect; and the audio is presented in a solid DTS-HD 5.1 mix with optional English subtitles.
That's it, though.  Subtitles on or off is the sole option on the menu.  Momentum has decided to include absolutely no special features whatsoever, not even a trailer.  And that's super disappointing, because I'm sure the behind-the-scenes footage of this movie must be a blast.  And I was very interested to hear what filmmakers had to say about this story, but this is as barebones as it gets.  It does come in a slip cover, at least.  But the discs themselves are depressingly barren.
It's still a must-have, because the film rocks.  And I guess the upshot is that Mom and Dad got a pretty broad release (you can pick it up at Best Buy, etc), so it can be had pretty cheap.  But it's sad, because this is the kind of film where, just a couple years ago, of course it would've been a special edition, with the directors adding a bunch of fun supplements to it.  But now we're watching physical media decline.  I guess we should be happy for even these basic releases while we've still got 'em.

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