Director – Charlie Kaufman
Cast – Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce, Tiana Pierce, Frederick Coffin, Michael McCleery, Beatrice Pons, Robert Collins, Peter Fox, Marsella Davidson, Kevin Lowe, Scott Lucas
Release Year – 1980
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Well, diabolical mothers are not a new element to the horror genre, but one that we do not get too often these days. When I found out that this film was written and directed by Lloyd Kaufman’s brother Charlie Kaufman I thought to myself, “Well, this outta be fun!”, but fun is one of the few feelings/emotions I got from this film. I really wanted to like it, but pacing issues thanks to some mediocre writing of an unforgivable amount kept me from doing just that.
Mother’s Day follows a group of young women who refer to themselves as the “Rat Pack”, a name they gave themselves back in high school. Every year they set aside a weekend of fun, adventure, and catching up. This year they have settled on a hiking trip into the backwoods of their countryside. Little do the girls know, these woods are inhabited by a group of psychotic morons who do their evil mother’s bidding for her, and the “Rat Pack” will soon realize they have made the mistake of a lifetime.
This one started off promising, and had my devout attention thanks to a pretty cool and cheezy intro. Believe it or not, my interest in this film began to decline at the beginning of the second act, which is exactly where my interest is supposed to PEAK, not decline. Why is that? Well, this is when we really get into the usage of “Mother” and her sons Ike and Addley. I had seen them before in the film during the introduction, but when I really got an up close and personal view of this trio and the way they operate I really lost interest in this uninteresting trio. Sure they employ many psychotic tendencies and bring about some pretty messed up scenes involving the young vacationing girls, but I have seen these exact types of scenes done much better with the same low-budget resources.
There is much more for me to balk at with this film, and most of it occurs due to this film’s screenplay. The pacing during the second act of the film was quite horrible at times, and this film lots any and all focus it had. We were given many useless scenes that should have either been trimmed down to whatever positive elements they contained or completely cut from the film entirely, and they contributed to the uninteresting storyline that I had such problems with. The idea of this plot is an OK one, but we really get nothing great thrown in aside from the awesome introduction. Had the rest of the film played off the way the introduction went down then this would be an instant classic for me.
Charlie Kaufman’s direction is mediocre at best, and I issue him some blame as well during the poorly written scenes in the second act. Positive direction can usually fix poorly written scenes, although the extent of “fix” is widely open to interpretation, but sadly his direction in these scenes is as bad as his writing. We do get some OK gore and kills here and there, but they were not nearly enough to save nor forgive this film for its lack of focus for the majority of its runtime.
Overall, this is a mediocre watch that I would not recommend due to some bad writing and less-then-positive direction. Those who are into these zany backwoods films may want to give this one a shot yourselves just to make your own opinion on this one, but as a fan of such films myself I found this a weak watch.