Jim Cavanaugh is a bored, bummed out New Jersey suburbanite, riddled with teen angst and nervousness. His mother left when he was a child. His father is a drunken, asshole narcissist. All he wants is to be happy, in love with his girlfriend, Doreen, and far away from his controlling father.
We meet Jim and Emily preparing for a little afternoon delight when Jim’s dad comes home. He catches the two in the bathroom, and humiliates them. Jimmy apologizes to Emily that night, and she suggests they run away together. The situation grows more complicated when a hospital visit confirms that Emily is pregnant.
Through the magic of something called “a Google search”, Emily finds clues to Jim’s mother’s whereabouts. They decide to follow the trail to a place called Johnsville, New Jersey. With an investigation somewhere between Toolbox Murders and Scooby Doo, Jim and his neighbor, Jen, uncover an old reel-to-reel movie that could reveal the secrets of his family history, or even a murder. Instead, they shut it off and go to a drive-in movie.
Now, these are teenagers stuck in New Jersey with no future. Led by Alpha Male (super jock) Bobby, the promise of high quality weed and the inevitable magnetic draw between a truck full of teen stereotypes and homicidal maniacs, off they go! (In a twist, the party is warned about their impending doom by a 10-year old gas station boy instead of an old guy on a ten-speed. Nice touch!) While the teens journey along, the film is peppered with rushed POV shots, hinting at some kind of unknown being occupying their strange destination.
The crew arrives in Johnsville; an untouched, abandoned town; cleaner than Leatherface’s pad in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but tidier than the demon-ridden streets of Silent Hill, or the broken asylum in Session 9. By day, the buildings are almost tolerable, save for a few spots of carcass and blood. Teen crew member Gary (who should have traded in his Abercrombie shirt for a red Star Trek ensign outfit) brings out the film’s villains, in a manner that will viewers screaming “what the hell are you doing” right at the screen.
A myriad of murders follows, sending the (remaining) teens scrambling for their lives. Each unveils their true character, with a few surprises. The film sets up a great reveal, which separates it from most slasher flicks, and nicely ties up all the loose ends…though not in the way many viewers will expect.
The moral of the story: a group of road-tripping teens should always listen to the weirdo kid they meet on the way. (Exhibit A: Dennis, from Cabin Fever – “PANCAKES!”).
Writer/Director Jeff Roenning is either a good researcher, or he has some serious Daddy issues. Tex (Greg Travis (Watchmen, Night of the Living Dead 3D) is a great jerk, and he has plenty of opportunities thanks to Roenning’s script. Equally as malicious is Tex’s buddy, Sid, who uses hypnotherapy to molest women. Scarimbolo’s Jim is an unsteady, innocent do-gooder, with a heart of gold but hardly the courage to back it up. He’s Peter Parker without the Spidey sense.
Continuing the comic theme, the villains in this film are caricatures, over-the-top, insanely fun spirits, like the parade of bad guys who took on Adam West and Burt Ward in the Batman TV shows. Mel Gorham’s (Carlito’s Way, Copland) Delores monologues like the best Bond villain, with an accident thick enough to chew. She’s like Catwoman on crystal meth.
MDM is straight to the point; a true-to-form slasher flick with fun kills. It’s entertaining, if not original. Considering it was shot in 11 days, it delivers in a fashion that should make the Trucker Films brand proud. It’s a Troma-like translation of Wrong Turn. It’s got nothing to do with Mother’s Day, but it packs enough laughs and curious turns to make it worth a visit. What may seem like a bunch of disjointed sub-plots actually wraps up pretty well.
The filmmakers’ really had fun with the DVD extras. The commentary track includes several great, drunken quotes from Roenning and his crew. Deleted scenes are also included, along with a featurette on the 13 days of Bacon, which chronicles the entire shoot. Cast interviews are also included.
MDM runs 88 minutes. Viewers can learn more at the official site: www.mothersdaymassacremovie.com.