Most parents will identify with the struggles that they encounter when raising children, and that strange balance of absolute despair and unwavering love that they have for their own kids.
It’s this balance that writer, director, Brian Taylor scrutinizes and tinkers with, asking the question, what happens when that need to protect and care for your offspring has a switch that is flipped and the desire to kill takes over.
It’s a controversial topic that Taylor lifts the lid upon and not only singles out one family, but makes this a global issue. It’s one that needs to be addressed with no real answer offered up by the director, which is interesting position that he chooses to go with.
Whilst choosing to tell the tale as a global epidemic with parents heading out to murder their children, we’re hit with troubling images head-on when a mother deliberately abandons her child in a car upon the railway tracks, as a speeding train plows into it.
A shocking image that as a parent myself, I found deeply uncomfortable to view, and sets the tone throughout the film, and pushes me to areas that I found hard to take as a result. For that end the movie certainly does its job in presenting some horrific scenes, notably when one mother attempts to kill her newborn in a birthing suite.
The global epidemic plays out like something from Dawn of the Dead, with news bulletins, chat shows, and reports playing out on screens in stages as the story unfolds.
One particularly glorious scene involves a ‘zombie-like’ rampage as hordes of parents scale the school gates and chase their own throughout the grounds, with some disturbing scenes unfolding before you.
Part of this film’s appeal comes with the killer casting of the storylines Mom and Dad, with Nicolas Cage suitably restrained and playing to his age, whilst still giving his ‘ham and cheese’ moment which had become his schtick over the years.
It’s the refreshing presence of Selma Blair though that steals a lot of the scenes, showcasing her delicate, caring mother, to a murderous, gleeful, maniacal figure, who is hell-bent on destroying her kin. Blair’s delivery is wonderfully subtle and as a viewer she plays with your desire for her to show that loving spirit her character displayed in the earlier scenes, and cruelly pulls away from that every time. It leaves you wanting to see more of her on screen again.
It’s worth noting that the children, Zackary Arthur and Anne Winters pull off some strong performances that keep you rooting for them to survive their ordeal, but the final scenes are almost completely stolen away by a Lance Henriksen’s cameo.
Some of the director’s style allows the movie to come across as quite sparse in places, but Taylor clearly has a knack for allowing the actor’s room to breathe on screen, whilst delivering a hefty punch.
The subject matter can make you feel uncomfortable in places, but this only makes the movie all the more stronger as a result.
Potentially this film may fall under the radar, which would be a shame as it’s a decent entry into the genre.
– Saul Muerte