The domestic-hostage film is the elimination-style reality-TV show of thriller movies, both of which offer the spectacle of personalities tested or shattered by the crucible of pressure. Returning to the roots of the genre, Mother’s Day takes something of its premise and characters from the homemade 1980 Troma horror farce of the same name, best remembered for its grotesque, homey VHS box art. This new Mother’s Day, however, represents a more efficient, state-of-the-art breed of splatter entertainment, engineered as it is by Darren Lynn Bousman, who made his name with machine-tooled torture spectacles Saws II though IV. A middle-class housewarming party—the big cast means plenty of fresh meat for the hopper—is interrupted and taken captive by the home’s former residents, the fugitive Koffin brothers, Ike and Addley (Patrick Flueger and Warren Kole), who are soon joined by their leader, prim, firm, and fatally putative Mother (Rebecca De Mornay, fresh from the icebox). The hostages break into warring factions—one in favor of appeasement, the other uprising—while Ike chaperones the lady of the house (Jaime King) on a cash-collecting ATM run. The ATM breakaway was also a plot device in the recent Spanish home-invasion film Kidnapped (these movies are really starting to run together), though Mother’s Day is distinguished, at least, by De Mornay’s porcelain-smile lampoon of castigating matriarchy.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 2, 2012