Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Mother’s Day (2010)

My notes on the 2010 remake of the 1980 movie.

Yes, another remake of something a focus group barely remembered.  Director Darren Lynn Bousman, trying to break out into a career beyond Saw sequels, and writer Scott Milam (who gets an additional credit for ‘screen story’) take the broad-strokes of the 1980 Charles Kaufman film, pitting a tough heroine with less tough friends against the psycho sons of a mad matriarch, but deliver an essay in a different sub-genre.  The first Mother’s Day was a stay-out-of-the-woods shocker with a black comic edge, but this is a home invasion picture tooled as a vehicle for Rebecca de Mornay as a less harridanlike mad mother than Rose Ross.  In a nod to the original, Mother’s feral sister Queenie is evoked, as a story she uses to keep the kids in line – but, sadly, she doesn’t show up in the climax.  Neither, equally sadly, does the hurricane everyone talks about in the first half of the film.  The upshot is a rape-revenge film in which no one is actually raped (though there’s a lot of nasty sexual menace) and the revenge isn’t completed.  After the remakes of Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave and with a new Straw Dogs on the way, a rape-light remake isn’t exactly something to complain about and the film doesn’t skimp on mean-spiritedness.  Typical is an incidental scene (ahem, homaging The Dark Knight) in which two dim girl witnesses (guest stars Alexa Vega and AJ Cook) are told if one kills the other she’ll go free (it doesn’t work out well for anyone).


This plays best as a clash between divas, with Jaime King holding up her end as the survivor woman, and at least manages a suspenseful first half before things dissipate.  Bousman, used to the set-piece/guest victim structure of Saw, fills the house with too many extra characters and loses sight of quite a few – for real horror, the focus needs to be narrower.  In a set-up more influenced by Bloody Mama or The Grissom Gang than Mother’s Day, bank robbers Ike (Patrick Flueger) and Addley (Warren Kole) – why characters born in the 1980s would be named after 1950s presidential candidates is a mystery – have fouled up and return to their mama’s home with gutshot brother Johnny (Matt O’Leary) bleeding all over the place.  But Lydia Koffin (DeMornay) has lost the house to a tax auction, and troubled young couple Beth (King) and Daniel Sohapi (Frank Grillo) – who, like too many couples in post-Don’t Look Now horror, have lost a child – have moved in.  The crooks terrorise the normals and mama shows up with a strange daughter (Deborah Ann Woll, from True Blood).  A hurricane is due, which keeps the cops busy and the streets empty, and the ironically-named Sohapis have a crowd (too many) guests in the house.  The roll call: a tough tattooed chick (Brana Evigan, from the Sorority Row remake), an angry black guy (Lyriq Bent, from Saw sequels), Daniel’s secret girlfriend (Lisa Marcos), a whiny lawyer with hair implants that get ripped out (Tony Nappo), a black girl with no discernible character traits (Kandyse McClure), a nice guy doctor (Shawn Ashmore, Iceman from the X-films) forced to do impromptu surgery on Johnny’s gunshot involving a coffee can lid, and a single mom (Jessie Rusu) who gets shot and dumped early but survives in needless cutaways to a hospital that add a when-will-she-wake-up-and-tell-the-cops angle.


It sketches in some social anger, with Mother lamenting ‘they packed up our life and threw it away’ as she finds her former possessions in the new householder’s trash and tuts at the redecoration the Sohapis have done – but the Koffins are plainly sociopath scum rather than driven to extremes by economics.  Lydia has stolen all her babies, a prologue implies – though this strand pays off unexpectedly.  DeMornay commands the screen, underplaying and cooing as she insists on good manners and calm (and cake) while ruthlessly exploiting the victims’ traumas and misdeeds.  Sums of stolen money the gang have ‘sent home to mother’ are missing, and there’s a thread about who might have it and how far the Koffins will go to get it back.  Below the belt torture tactic – burning irreplaceable snapshots of the dead son (this follows the usual screen convention of assuming that even kids who logically were born in 2003 have pre-digital childhood memories).  The film keeps piling extra stuff on the basic story – Beth is let out of the house with Ike to harvest cash from ATMs, and they run around town while things get worse back home – while building up other characters as possible heroes or heroines just takes away from King’s strong turn.  DeMornay is the main monster attraction, in the rest of the gang are all scary but weak.  Lydia decides Johnny’s wish that he not die a virgin should be honoured, but isn’t satisfied with any of the women in the house as a worthy prospect, but stops short of taking the incest implications much further (in this, she’s less extreme than Jamie Lee Curtis in the weak Mother’s Boys).  Woll makes something of nothing as the sheltered girl who disapproves of rape (‘you told us it should always be the woman’s choice’) and shows signs of defection (a trope from The Hills Have Eyes).


So, DeMornay is the new Shelley Winters.  Almost everyone else here is working at half-strength.


Here’s a trailer.


One thought on “Film review – Mother’s Day (2010)

  1. Dave Chojin the original was banned and that was tame in the horror department compared to argento and fulci the masters of horror

    Simon Jones The original was excellent. I still can’t believe its been remade. Maybe the original will now be passed uncut.

    James Fague Jr. i thought they did a great job ‘re-inventing’ the original. hats off to scott and darren! p.s. and i usually hate remakes or sequels. 🙂

    Christian Ladewig I’m pretty sure neither the makers nor the “new-horror” kids in the audience know that Ike and Addley are names of 1950 presidential candidates.

    Simon Jones Theres loads of reference points in the original film. Its very intelligent

    Nigel Dungan Looking forwards to seeing this next week 🙂

    Dave Chojin i got the original mothers day uncut and i cant see why it was banned it is tame when compared to some from the thatcher era of films, such as the beyond, suspiria even texas chainsaw 2 they had cuts yea but arnt they much more violent

    Simon Jones Sexualised violence is why it was banned. And the whole ‘video nasties’ episode…

    Dave Chojin ahh they still frown on that like new york ripper the eyeball slice great but nipple splitting nope cos its sexual, i vaguely remember the sexual violence, but have you seen irreversible ? that was passed uncut thats what gets me with bbfc irrev…See more

    Christian Ladewig Irreversible had the luck of the “art film” tag being swallowed by the authorities. So it was treated differently.

    Simon Jones The original of Mothers Day was packaged as a dirty, nasty horror movie and so that didn’t help. ‘Art’ will always be treated differently.

    Michael Brooke Actually, I suspect ‘Irreversible’ would have run into virtually identical problems if it had been released during the James Ferman era (a much more accurate tag than “Thatcher era”, not least because ‘Suspiria’ is technically un film di James Callaghan). Instead, it was released after the great BBFC liberalisation of 2000, and took full advantage.

    Dave Chojin yeah i got the vhs of suspiria or whats left of it from way back, argentos and some fulcis have just been cleaned and restored wickedly and all uncut from italian prints, phenomenon completely uncut for the first time ever, Irreversible though i coul…See more

    Michael Brooke Seen it, reviewed it (S&S, a few months back) – in fact, I had to watch it twice to compare cut and uncut versions. More intelligent than I was expecting, and a fair bit less extreme – but I suspect it had been spoilered to death by the time I finally saw the full version, so much of the shock value had dissipated. Much of Srdjan Spasojevic’s defence of the film is pretty tongue-in-cheek (not to mention bollocks: there are plenty of other Serbian films that have dealt with the recent national malaise head-on), but fair play to him for securing global notoriety and international distribution, something that’s eluded virtually all his compatriots.

    Dave Chojin its not that bad then after all the hype, i like your description lol bollocks, puts the film up there with high school musical lol (more bollocks lol) i think i will take a look at that movie

    Mike Sutton I thought the main problem with A Serbian Film was its descent into unintentional farce during the climax and the unusual method of eye gouging.

    Michael Brooke Actually, I think quite a bit of the film is intentionally funny – very much including that moment.

    Rich Flannagan I thought Serbian was a little like a small boy trying to shock his parents by saying ‘bloody’. Nowadays, with atrocious footage easily available on the internet, only Daily Mail readers will be offended by purely visceral shocks. Something like Martyrs was more shocking to me because of the reason behind the cruelty, not just impressive effects.

    Dave Chojin martyrs was amazingly brutal i think it was the fact it was women doing the acts rather than men like switch blade romance when you workout it was the woman not a stalker, inside is another shock movie that kind of shocks but it just turns but it just turns your toes because its been done in Anthropophagous by Joe D’Amato (some mad stuff that guy has done in his many guises ) and war movie men behind the sun also has a pregnant woman bit which is quite horrific.

    Rich Flannagan Man Behind the Sun is a truly disturbing film, not least because some of the stuff in it looks authentic.

    Dave Chojin im not sure in what order i saw them but they are all disturbing but very true, but yea the effects looked real inter cut with real footage and photographs,

    Rich Flannagan I’ll have to get the box set. I’ve not seen all of them, but it is powerful stuff, especially being based on real events

    Faith Clements well with that many characters in the mothers day remake coming and going in one form or another,it sounds like a very nasty sitcom of the worst kind,bless this house you bitch!

    Posted by kimnewman | June 23, 2017, 12:28 pm

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