I hate that this review isn't some beaming five star demand that readers immediately set aside twenty-some-odd bucks in the coming weeks, regardless of if they have to eat nothing but ramen noodles in that time. I hate the fact that I have to inform potential viewers that this remake may be entirely unnecessary and outdated before it even hits home video. I don't even think hate is a strong enough word for the emotion I'm having right now, considering I just viewed 'Mother's Day' (the remake of the 1980 Troma film), and can't spend five paragraphs verbally drooling all over Deborah Ann Woll (who plays the vamp Jessica in 'True Blood').
I should have absolutely loved this film. As much as I'm no fan of remakes, particularly of mostly forgotten horror films that play to audiences entirely unaware of the existence of a predecessor, I'm a huge, huge fan of the directors of both films of this title: Lloyd Kaufman (he of 'Toxic Avenger' lore) and Darren Lynn Bousman (the first few 'Saw' sequels, 'Repo! The Genetic Opera'), and always look forward to seeing films from either. Combine the two? Should be heaven on Earth for someone like me. Should be.
The premise of this feature is very 1980's: a family has moved into their new home, and are throwing a party downstairs, with a fairly large group reveling and generally having a good time. The previous occupants of the home, on the run after a botched bank robbery left one shot and near death, return to the abode, not knowing their mother lost the house. The new occupants and their pals are held hostage by the bloodthirsty criminals, who proceed to bring in the rest of their clan to figure out how to evade the law and get out of the country, all while executing brutal psychological and physical torment on the people they see as squatters.
Now, that sounds pretty darned interesting, right? Throw in a fantastic performance by Rebecca De Mornay as the domineering "Mother," a solid assorted supporting cast (including Jaime King, the aforementioned bombshell Woll, Shawn Ashmore, and a brief appearance by Alexa Vega) and a good sized budget for a feature of this ilk (a whopping eleven million) that allows for some very nasty torture effects, and this should be a minimalist terror no-brainer. Only...'Mother's Day' just doesn't work as well as it should.
From the start, the new owners of the home and their friends come off as grating assholes, with their flamboyant personalities seeming over-exaggerated in their introductions so as to set them apart from each other. So there's that immediate disconnect, where we're to root for the bad guys. The trio of Koffin brothers (Patrick Flueger, Warren Kole, Matt O'Leary) become the characters to root for, especially once their brutally sadistic mother puts them in line, and for a survival horror, we're now rooting for the wrong group, so when the tide starts to turn on the "villains," it's just disappointment after disappointment.
Now, sure, I get it, not everyone will associate with the murderous Koffin clan as I did, and perhaps the fact that I root for the psychopaths means I may have my own set of problems...but it's obvious the way characters are fleshed out that we're supposed to like the bad guys, as the "victims" continually have their dirt brought to the surface by their manipulative captors. Plot developments happen, due to the fact the brothers didn't know about the loss of the house, that have us rooting for them even more, and it's just a buzz kill when they start to lose control of the situation, once the ordinary people resort to drastic measures when they realize they're being culled for the slaughter.
'Mother's Day' features plenty of very domestic, personal violence, and some of it may disturb audiences. The way the Koffins torture their "guests" can be quite brutal and unthinkable, and the way they turn people on their own makes for some very nasty carnage, as well. The ATM sequence, where two young ladies happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, is very 'Mad Max in Thunderdome'-esque, and if that sequence isn't enough to turn stomachs, the scene where the surviving women are put in a lottery to see who will take the dying Koffin brother's virginity may be the clincher for those of weaker constitutions.
This flick runs methodically slow, and while it does a decent enough job of keeping us in contact with the assorted characters and their varied tortures (once shit gets hectic, you'll start wondering where a character or two disappeared to...), it may be a little too big for its own good, as when the film hits the hour mark, it already feels like you've watched a feature-length film...and you're only half finished! There are some interesting choices made in the film, with a fight sequence between De Mornay's "Mother" and King's Beth that can be difficult to discern which character is which due to identical clothing, in a moment that hints to us that the circumstances have changed a regular person into someone on the same level as the sadistic matriarch. Sadly, I see most people seeing said sequence and its slap-dash editing and getting confused. This fairly-straight-forward film doesn't have unseen twists that will alienate its audience, but it lacks a charisma and personality to get from start to finish leaving viewers satisfied with the time they invested.
The Disc: Vital Stats
The remake of 'Mother's Day' comes to Blu-ray from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment on a Region A locked BD25, along with a bonus DVD disc making a combo pack. There are no packaging or menu frills worth mentioning.
The video presentation on 'Mother's Day' comes by way of an AVC MPEG-4 encode at 1080p, the results being a solid though unspectacular disc. While there is minor noise, hefty grain, small bands (visible in walls) and a minor dabble of crush, the picture looks as good as you'd expect from a moody feature like this. Blood has a fantastic red gooeyness that is reminiscent of Bousman's torture-porn features, and colors are generally solid. Detail levels are very good, as well, with the only concern being lighting due to the crush concerns listed above, with amazing hair detail and tons of facial features at risk. Exteriors don't pop, with undersaturated colors, while interiors have an obvious over-warmth, to create tone. All in all, this transfer is hardly disappointing, even if it has a mild amount of issues, as the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
Equally impressive is the audio, as Anchor Bay gives 'Mother's Day' a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that falters compared to its peers, but works in the confines of this more home-y film. The best surprise is the way rears are used, creating full room ambience in the very opening sequence. Bass starts out a little light, progressing to heavier, meatier thumps as the film progresses, though engines lack any roar at all. Dialogue is always clean and discernible, but sticks mostly to the front channel. My biggest gripe is also what I was surprised most about. The way this film opens, you expect some serious rear use continuously through the film, but it's a trick, making you think you're going to be immersed, as it slowly fades out after leaving its impression. The rears do occasionally forget all the characters in the room, particularly in tighter shots that would make off-camera dialogue localize. While the film does pick up for this failure at times with full immersion, the in-and-out use of the channels is a little disappointing.
The only version of this release includes a bonus DVD of the film.
This remake of 'Mother's Day' is passable, but hardly justifies its existence, you know, in the whole realm of remakes and redoes and do-overs and whatnot. It's a great way to expose a new audience to the original film, but when this film doesn't inspire its audience to even get to its own finale without struggling, then I hardly see this as one people will recommend to their friends and the like, and while this Blu-ray release of Bousman's turn on Kaufman is quite solid, the way this film feels almost like a certain film trilogy full of four hour films (in terms of length, not magnitude) is a buzzkill. Go in with low expectations, but give it a shot.