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First Look Review - M.O.M. (MOTHERS OF MONSTERS)

M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) review
A mother fears her son may be planning a mass shooting.


Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Tucia Lyman

Starring: Melinda Page Hamilton, Bailey Edwards, Ed Asner, Julian de la Celle, Janet Ulrich Brooks

M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) poster

16 year old Jacob is a belligerent and troubled teenager, with his mum; but when he’s in public he has good grades and a thriving social life.

Mom Abby is growing increasingly uncomfortable with his strange and violent habits, such as destroying her shoes as the sound of the heels make him crazy, hurting/killing animals, and collecting gun mags with circled ‘choices’. She’s afraid he’s building to an ultimate act and so she has taken to filming him incessantly. But its initially ambiguous as to whether we believe Abby and her impressions of his troubling behaviour, or Jacob, who says he doesn’t do the things she says and the filming is a reflection of her own eroding sanity and burgeoning alcoholism. After all, she had complained to the police two years previous and her ‘evidence’ was dismissed, a fact that Jacob likes to remind her of as she continues to push cameras into his space.

As their relationship spins out of control we as an audience are witness to it all.

M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) review

This is not an easy watch. The way Jacob speaks to his mother is repellent and you can’t help but feel so sad for her.

He’s mean and entitled and has zero respect for his mother, not to mention homophobic and anti-Semitic, but does this mean he is planning a school shooting?

Abby has had a past interaction with troubling and violent young men in her late brother Jerry, whose psychopathic tendencies she fears have been passed down to her irrational and rage filled son.

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When Jacob finds out about the filming, he decides to retaliate in truly chilling and unpredictable ways.

Shot in found footage style utilising the many ‘nanny cams’ and CCTV Abby sets up in various hidden places about the house, as well as the hand held ‘talk to the camera’ additions used to flesh out characters motivations, this is a good example of using the format to your advantage. It makes sense within the narrative (indeed, is central to it) and there is no need to make excuses as to why characters are still walking about with cameras once things get hairy and most rational people would have abandoned their devices. No such concerns here.

M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) review

The acting is very good from Melinda Page Hamilton as Abby and jaw droppingly great from Bailey Edwards as Jacob. His ability to turn from sympathetic to horrifying is remarkable and his committed and menacing performance is riveting. He should have a long future ahead of him in film if this startling turn is anything to go by. Ed Asner adds some weight in a brief turn as Dr Arden.

As a side note, the use of actual home movies from Edwards' childhood in this film adds an invaluable sense of authenticity to the proceedings and your overall unease – an inspired decision!

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The screenplay by writer/director Tucia Lyman is cleverly filled with unforeseen twists and turns that keep you engaged and invested, though if I’m honest the finale is not quite as cut and dried as I would have wanted it to be. It’s true that there are grey areas in everybody and we are much more comfortable when someone is all good or bad, but in this instance the bad felt too bad for there to be any hope of reconciliation or happy resolution.

M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) review

However, that ambiguity is the point I suspect, and it’s only my personal comfort level that felt challenged. Lyman certainly succeeds in the reality she was going for in this film.

This is a thought provoking film that is not as easy to shake as initially thought. Perhaps not quite the thrill ride that some horror fans may expect from the found footage genre, this is more a study of horror from within; of loving someone whom you’re also afraid of, the pain of wanting to help those who resent it.

Truly terrifying on a deeper level, this one will hit hard.

M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) opens in Los Angeles March 13th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.




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