Where were you when The Great Netflix Purge of 2013 hit? Stuck in an elevator with poor wi-fi? Trapped on a subway counting down to midnight? Locked in your recliner with the vow to clear that queue before the midnight cleansing?
For the un-instant watching, TGNP’13 has become an infamous day in modern history. To make room for its increased original programming (and a little show you might have heard of called Arrested Development), Netflix cleared out a few hundred/thousand titles on May 1st from its streaming service. For some of my film-loving friends, this was a cinematic holocaust. For me, well…it simply gave me the impetus to watch a werewolf horror comedy co-starring Brion James and a lot of bad ‘90s haircuts.
Quick Plot: Emily is a pleasant sixtysomething widow whose son Clay is quickly rising as a go-to field reporter for a local news station. As Clay investigates a vicious rash of murders slowly spreading to his community, Emily rents her spare bedroom to a shifty blind man named Lester, played by the always shifty James. Before she can cash in his security deposit, Lester turns Emily into his werewolf hunting partner.
Early on in the film, Mom showed a lot of promise. There seemed to be a pointed effort to not tread typical werewolf territory, and having Lester and Emily wander through the slums of LA to scout out the best fed homeless entrée was a nice twist. Once Clay learns his mother’s secret, Mom even posits and interesting theme on what it means to be an adult taking care of your parents as they become less and less able. Like so many lycanthropic tales, Mom had plenty of firm ground to explore.
Writer/director Patrick Rand worked on quite a few cult gems, including the somewhat similarly toned The Unborn and the, you know, POSITIVELY AMAZING Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He also edited a Baby Einstein video, which I imagine is an experience akin to being trapped inside a washing machine with a bag of Skittles. That aside, Mom is certainly a well-made film, one that gets good performances out of its fairly unknown cast and displays some passable makeup effects.
Here’s the issue with Mom: it’s a horror comedy. Here’s the thing about horror comedies: they should be horror and comedy. Or horrific comedy. Or funny horror. The balance varies, but both conditions must be met in some capacity.
Mom doesn’t really meet either.
There are certainly moments of humor, but minus the hilarity of this era’s mullets, nothing really elicits more than a smile. Emily isn’t sweet or dark enough, and while her struggle to resist murder has stakes, the film doesn’t quite treat them with any real heft. That would be fine if the jokes were effective, but plainly and simply, they just aren’t.
Pleasant. That’s what Mom is. Occasionally sweet, often bordering on dull (but MAN do those early 90s fashions save it from ever sinking) and overall, just not that special.
The first woman to be werewolfed, it should be noted, displayed a rather fantastic scream
The fact that the victim who dies before the opening credits having a good scream was the only genuine high note
When preparing your human meal, make sure he or she lays off the tobasco sauce
Always keep an open can of grease handy in the kitchen
There are ways to make tequila very unsexy. They tend to involve slobbery prostitutes with poodle hair
Being an unofficial Girl Scout in the 1990s was dangerous work
The Netflix Purge has made Mom rather hard to come by, as there seems to be no DVD release. Really folks, that’s okay. Neither funny nor scary, Mom isn’t the kind of film that deserves ebay scouring. If it ever comes back to Instant Watch and you’re the kind of cool cat that simply adores tame werewolf comedies from the early 1990s, then hey! Watch Mom. But considering it’s the second Sunday in May, I’d say you’re better off spending the time honoring the actual mothers in your life. Hope you made that brunch reservation!