ACTIONS speak louder than words and there are some jaw-dropping actions in Darren Lynn Bousman’s stomach-churning remake of Charles Kaufman’s low-budget 1980 trash horror of the same name.
A shotgun blast causes one female protagonist’s head to explode into the camera while a male character is tortured with the contents of a boiling kettle.
Screenwriter Scott Milam plunders the darkest recesses of the human psyche, questioning our morality when faced with certain death.
His pawns in this grubby game of survival are a thoroughly unlikeable menagerie of well-to-do suburbanites and wayward criminals.
By the time the end credits roll, more than half of the cast are heading for the mortuary slab and the victims are painted in similarly dark, unflattering colours as the supposed villains of the piece.
Director Bousman, who previously made three instalments of the Saw franchise, slathers Mother’s Day with similar amounts of blood and entrails, and delights in the degradation of the characters.
The nastiness is accomplished with considerable directorial flair but audiences will need several sugary drinks from the concessions stand to blot the nasty taste left by the relentless carnage.
Ike Koffin (Patrick Flueger) and his brothers Addley (Warren Kole) and Johnny (Matt O’Leary) bungle a bank heist and head for their childhood home, which they intend to use as a hideaway from the cops. However, the Koffin boys are unaware that their mother has lost their house, and young couple Daniel (Frank Grillo) and Beth Sohapi (Jaime King) have snapped up the property in a foreclosure sale.
The robbers burst into the house in the middle of a party thrown by the Sohapis and take everyone hostage including Treshawn (Lyriq Bent) and his wife Gina (Kandyse McClure) and mutual friend Annette (Briana Evigan).
Soon after, matriarch Natalie Koffin (Rebecca De Mornay) arrives with her daughter Lydia (Deborah Ann Woll) in tow and it’s clear that momma is running the show.
“What I want is to leave you in peace,” Natalie tells the Sohapis, instructing Beth’s friend George (Shawn Ashmore), who is a doctor, to tend to her injured son Johnny.
“If you hurt my friends, I’m going to let your baby boy die in front of you,” he retorts.
Mother’s Day doesn’t pull any punches within the claustrophobic confines of the Sohapi’s new home, which becomes their blood-stained prison.
De Mornay is deliciously unhinged as the criminal mastermind with a twisted sense of right and wrong.
“You’ll see, if you ever become a mother, punishment is never easy,” she tells one of the women shortly before venting her wrath.
At 112 minutes, the film would benefit from editing and the shock coda is telegraphed in advance, but for horror fans, Mother’s Day delivers a surfeit of repulsion and violent retribution.