Frustratingly enough, I have not been able to see the original Mother’s Day (1980) so I apologise for that in advance and hand in my horror credentials in disgrace! Though a comparison would have been interesting to talk about, I think I can still get away with a standard review of the remake, so let’s give it a go.
Mother’s Day is about a family of crazies who are running from the law after a bank robbery went wrong. They turn up at their childhood home to find that it is now owned by someone else and so decide to take them and their house guest’s hostage. There’s an element of The Last House on the Left to it (which came out in 1972, so this may have also been an influence in the original too) with the idea of an ‘unhealthy’ family unit who border on being sociopathic. No time is wasted hanging about on this one as we are launched more or less straight into the action – something which I personally like, who doesn’t love a film that slaps them round the face in a matter of minutes?!
Charles (original director) and Lloyd (original producer) Kaufman had cameo appearances in this remake, which is always nice as a little nod to its history. There are also a few famous faces among the cast, such as Rebecca De Mornay (from The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Risky Business, alongside Tom Cruise), Jaime King (from films like Bulletproof Monk and My Bloody Valentine), Shawn Ashmore (who’s in The Ruins as well as the X-Men franchise) and Briana Evigan (from Sorority Row and Burning Bright). With a few damn awful horror remakes that have happened in recent years (I won’t name and shame, because I’m such a nice person really), it felt really quite pleasant to see a good one for a change. I think that one of the reasons why this worked so well is because the original is such a little known one – definitely not a ‘horror classic’ even amongst horror fans, and so it benefited greatly from the ‘reboot’. The director of the remake, Darren Lynn Bousman (director of Saw 11,111 and 1V) updated it to fit modern audiences, keeping what was successful but changing selective details which enabled Mother’s Day to become a more widely known hit.
Whilst the ‘Koffin’ family are dysfunctional and have many issues, the poor hostages also have problems of their own as secrets are revealed and betrayals abound. The unhinged ‘Mother’ in a weird way gains our sympathy, simply through her consistent adherence to ‘family values’. I suppose it is a little cheesy at times, but there is also a plentiful amount of blood, violence and humiliation, so it balances itself out in the end. Perhaps it was a bit too long (nearly two hours!) to really sustain the tension throughout which is where it fell down in some scenes, but it was mostly an exciting watch.
As far as remakes go, I think this one has obeyed the ‘rules’ correctly, ensuring that it pleases both the fans of the original as well as any potential new horror fans. I thought that it was very gripping and this is mostly thanks to the work of Rebecca De Mornay as the crazy, ruthless mother. She plays it just right, becoming the backbone of the film almost. For people who like their films with a bit of torture and madness thrown in, then this is definitely one for you. It could even be described as a thriller rather than a horror in places, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.