Of all of the horror flicks currently getting the remake treatment, few seemed riper for revival than 1980’s Mother’s Day. A typical Troma mash-up of gore and giggles, Charles Kauffman’s ultra-low-budget horror/comedy, while a favorite amongst comedy/horror fans, left plenty of room for improvement. Boasting a fairly impressive cast and a decidedly more serious tone, Darren Lynn Bousman’s 2010 remake is a slicker and more sadistic version of Kaufman’s comparatively quaint and slapstick affair, but, in the process of retooling the film for today’s jaded masses, the director sacrifices all of the goofy charm and humor that made the original such a cult favorite to begin with.
Beth and Daniel Sohapi (Jaime King and Frank Grillo) are a young couple still reeling from the loss of their six year old son, who was hit by a car when the family lived in the city. Desperate to get away from their old surroundings, the Sohapi’s took advantage of the economic downturn and purchased a recently foreclosed home in the burbs. The film opens with Beth and Daniel entertaining a group of friends in the basement of their new home, as inclement weather rages outside. While the music blares and the revelers share drinks and laughs, a trio of men – one of them critically injured – enter the house only to discover that a lot has changed since they’ve been away. They are the notorious Koffin brothers – Ike (Patrick John Flueger), Addley (Warren Kole), and Johnny (Matt O’Leary) – wanted bank robbers who’ve returned home, or, more succinctly, what used to be their home.
Ike orders his mercurial brother Addley to round up the people in the basement while he attempts to contact their Mother Koffin (Rebecca De Mornay) to help them figure out their next move. A furious Mother informs him that she’d tried to notify him that the house had been foreclosed upon months earlier, but, seeing as how he lost the “emergency phone” she was unable to. Now, with every cop in the country looking for her boys, Mother puts together a plan to sneak her sons out of the country. The only problem is she needs money to do it, so she assigns Ike to take Beth out to round up cash using all of her guests ATM cards, promising her that, if she behaves, no harm will come to her husband or friends. Of course, things don’t go according to plan, promises are broken, secrets are revealed, and, ultimately, things get downright bloody and brutal.
As one would expect with Bousman at the helm, Mother’s Day has much more in common with the Saw flicks than Troma’s hilariously distasteful original, replete with all manner of torture, humiliation, and even the suggestion that all of those who are victimized here had it coming to them in one way or another. It’s all filmed with the ghoulishness of a kid frying ants with a magnifying glass, and the result is a movie that’s rather dispiriting and joyless. Were it not for De Mornay’s delicious turn as the merciless matriarch of the Koffin clan, I doubt I’d have made it through the entire film, especially given its seemingly interminable final act.
Anchor Bay/Starz releases Mother’s Day on Blu-ray with a very appealing 2.40:1 1080p transfer that boasts strong levels of detail, and a crisp, consistently pleasing image throughout. This is one of the few recent horror films I’ve seen where colors are actually somewhat true to life rather than desaturated or skewed sickly green, and, as a result, the image is oftentimes refreshingly vibrant. The accompanying Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is quite good, with a well-balanced mix and smartly implemented directional cues that work all corners of the room.
Extras are surprisingly scarce, and consist of a commentary track featuring Bousman and actor Shawn Ashmore that is fairly entertaining. The pair expresses their admiration for their coworkers, especially De Mornay, as well as one another, and, occasionally, break down a scene or talk about character motivation. It’s all very polite if not a bit pedestrian. In addition to the commentary, we get trailers for other Starz!/AB releases.
As much as I enjoyed De Mornay’s performance I found the bulk of Mother’s Day slow moving and rather dreary. I obviously wasn’t expecting a note-for-note remake of the Troma film (this is a reimagining after all), but I was hoping for at least a few laughs to break up the monotony. Depending on your tolerance for torture porn tropes, your mileage may vary, but, for for me, this is a movie only a mother could love.