CONTAINS SPOILERS AND A LESSON FOR THE DAY
Never prejudge a film. Certainly you can look forward to it in excitement or dread: it's by a particular director or with a particular actor, it won a bunch of awards or it's had lousy reviews elsewhere. You can say in advance what you suspect the film's going to be like but you don't yet know for sure. I'll admit that in this instance I was swaying towards prejudging this film, based on simply skimming through the BBFC's extended classification: six paragraphs lovingly detailing the graphic violence and sadism on display. That screed made the film sound like a companion piece to Rob Zombie's hideous The Devil's Rejects, a despicable Charles Manson wank fantasy and one of the most repugnant films of the last ten years. Add to that the fact that director Darren Lynn Bousman had previously made the unwatchably rubbish rock musical Repo: The Genetic Opera (thereby undoing at a stroke all the goodwill from his three Saw sequels), and that this new film was a remake of an early Troma offering, and my trepidation is easily explained. I was frankly dreading this film.
Mercifully, mercifully, Mother's Day is not the ordeal I'd dreaded, and while it's not a film I've the slightest interest in ever seeing again, I managed to get through it without screaming, sobbing, or fleeing the cinema in a cloud of mumbled profanity. It's still haunted by the grim memory of The Devil's Rejects - a family of murderous criminals ruled by a terrifying matriarch terrorise various innocent people - but thankfully it's way better shot and for the most part there's no confusion as to where our sympathies are expected to lie. While Rob Zombie was under the idiotic delusion that his clan of sociopathic scum were interesting people, the clan in Mother's Day are clearly worthy of nothing but contempt. Certainly they command your attention - they're led by the unnamed Mother (Rebecca De Mornay doing an extended Faye Dunaway impression) - but they are unquestionably the vilest of people.
The bloodshed and depravity is upfront and graphic, with hair transplants ripped off a man's head, boiling water poured over another man's face, fingers smashed with a pool ball, stabbings, shootings, burnings, beatings. But the occasional attempts to muddy the moral waters by having Mother expose some of the lies in their victims' lives (are they really any better than criminals themselves?) don't really work in what's basically a perfectly competent if nasty-edged home invasion exploitation movie. Far better than I was expecting, but still viciously grim stuff.