Mum and Dad / Steven Sheil

rating
4.0*/5.0*
Directed by
Steven Sheil
Produced in
2008

What better way to start the new year than with a gritty British horror flick. New horror talent is rising everywhere and the Brits can't lag behind. Not that they can keep up with the best, but they manage to uphold a good standard of dirty and raw horror flicks. Enter Mum & Dad.

screen cap of Mum and Dad

Horror films come in all different sizes and flavors. Gore, ghosts, werewolves, suspense, torture and whatnot. Sheil's Mum & Dad is a little different though. Rather than hit the audience with full-frontal ugliness it gambles on weirdness and plays the freak card. While some might call it another variation on the crazy family theme, it holds more in common with a film like Killers (or Real Killers, as it is also known) than it does with the Chainsaw Massacre or Rob Zombie flicks.

One thing about horror flicks is that you can often derive a lot from the title of the film. The cooler and tougher it sounds, the softer it usually is. And so you have to admit, Mum & Dad leaves a good solid base for some slick and freaky horror fun. Central to the film are both characters referenced in the title. Mum and dad might look like ordinary people from the outside, they certainly are a little different from your regular household setup.

The fun starts when one of their children drags in a Polish immigrant girl who gets "integrated" into the family. It quickly starts to dawn that mum and dad are not as ordinary as they seemed at first and off you go for a good 60 minutes of weirdness. Much like Calvaire, the film plays on equal levels of awkwardness, grit and humor which makes for a pretty compelling viewing. As much as you are repulsed, there's always some mad streak that sports a dark grin.

screen cap of Mum and Dad

The film is obviously a low budget affair and even though Sheil does his best to conceal this fact, from time to time it does look its budget. Visually there are interesting shots and sequences but the overall effect remains pretty inconsistent, with some rather amateurish shots in between. Same goes for the soundtrack of the film. Some dark ambient background music and good use of sound effects, but it never really gels into an audiovisual trip.

Luckily mom and dad themselves make the film a pleasure to watch. Their appearance alone, especially dad's, gives the film a pretty twisted feel. Fat English accents and an overly greasy facade only add more flair to the family. Both daughter and son are nice additions too, adding their share of weirdness to the whole setup.

While the level of gore is not noteworthy the film is pretty damn filthy in its own right. The creepiness of the family creates a bigger punch for what is actually shown on screen. On the other hand, the film never loses its touch of humor, keeping it clear from the realm of films like Martyrs. Add some nicely built up tension near the end and what you have is a pretty neat little horror flick that is sure to entertain and repulse at the same time.

Mum & Dad is not as good as any of its influences as Sheil's style is a little less refined. Still, there is potential aplenty and if the idea of a mellowed down mix between Calvaire and Martyrs appeals to you this is definitely a film worth watching.

definitely worth buying