Movie Review: Mom (1991)

September 18, 2012

If your mother turned into a hobo-eating ghoul, how far would you go to protect her? I’ll freely admit that it’s not a question I’ve ever asked myself until tonight. I love my mom, she’s great, but I think that my opinion of her might dwindle were she to become a “flesh eater” (Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry). So is the movie Mom good for more than provoking a family assessment?

Written and directed by Patrick Rand, Mom is the story of the unconditional love between a man and his mother. Emily (Jeanne Bates) is a sweet old lady who only wants the best for everybody. She’s even nice enough to rent a room in her house to a complete stranger (Brion James) — even after he bites Emily and turns her into a werewolf-like monster! Clay (Mark Thomas Miller), Emily’s son and well known TV news reporter has to come to terms with his mother’s new lifestyle, or else…

In my Skew review I noted that movie cover art can lie. That indeed holds true with Mom, only in the reverse way — going off of the movie artwork it looked very boring and I was ready for a dull affair. Fortunately, as wacky as it is, I bought a lot of this movie. I can’t say exactly what I’d do if I witnessed my mom devouring a live hobo, but the fear, anger, and confusion Clay experienced towards his mom seems very believable. After all he had just told her a few days prior that she was soon to become a grandmother.

I’m not condoning murder and cannibalism, but I think that if you love someone for somewhere around 40 years, it’s hard to terminate those feelings.

Above I noted that Emily is turned into something werewolf-like. It’s really hard to classify her because indeed she isn’t a monster all the time, the green eyes, snout, and sharp teeth are something which spontaneously appear and disappear. However, the transformation can happen anytime — day or night — and her face is the only thing that transforms. In a sense she is almost vampire-like in that eating anything except flesh makes her sick, has heightened senses all the time, and is provoked by blood.

The funny thing is that Rand knows that the monster in his monster movie is unidentifiable — early on it’s addressed as making no difference. Little anecdotes like that add credibility to movies, I think, as it shows self-awareness by the filmmaker. That said, even aside from its mystery monster, Mom is a whole lot of fun. It’s wacky, it’s dark, and it’s even a little bit creepy, and its characters are likeable — even the monster mom!

And again, it’s little things that matter. In the first ten minutes I bore witness to a very creepy opening, knew the name of every major character, believed every relationship, and liked them all as people. When chaos started ensuing I felt sympathy for the characters and was sad because I liked them that much. Infact I still feel sad thinking about it!

Honestly, I dig this movie, but I do recognize it isn’t perfect. There is an instance a little bit in where Clay stalks his mom and her house guest through dark alleys, which doesn’t work because it’s something that he wouldn’t have done. It’s a lingering problem because it sets up most of the movie — it’s the dinner which Clay witnesses that changes the relationship between him and his mom. If Clay had assumed that she was just going to the grocery store and not followed her into a dark alley, it would be a completely different movie. Hmm.

As of this writing Mom is on Netflix USA, and I’d recommend checking it out if you get the chance. It’s fun, a bit of a thought-provoker, and only 95 minutes of your time.

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