You know how there are heaps of horror films out there that owe everything to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre? Well this one takes one moment from that classic – namely the dinner scene – and stretches it into an entire feature.
Lena has just started work as an after hours office cleaner when she first meets siblings Birdie and Elbie. Birdie at first seems friendly but pretty soon moves through annoying on her way to creepy. When Lena makes the mistake of being herded home by the two she’s knocked unconscious. What follows is a sadistic mix of captivity, torture, murder and sexual abuse.
Those first few scenes of incarceration are genuinely disturbing. This is one f*cked up family, with Mum and Dad calling the shots every second of every day. As is often the case with horror films, the low budget makes the brutal scenes all the more nightmarish. Without flashy production values or cinematography there’s nowhere for the viewer to hide. Instead it’s blood, bruises and domesticity with no release whatsoever.
Surprisingly, one actually acclimatises to the nastiness after half an hour or so, and this is where the film fails. After beginning with a bang, it has nowhere to go. I was never particularly convinced that Lena was powerless to change her situation, and after a little while the gore became boring. She has no backstory of consequence either, so it’s hard to really feel any emotion for her.
The performances are strong all round, but Olga Fedori is fantastic in the lead role. She hardly ever gets to speak (there’s a horrible reason for this but I’ll leave you to find out) but performs brilliantly in silence. Veteran actor Perry Benson is almost too perfect as Dad – I was repulsed every moment he was on screen, but I guess that’s the point. He’s well matched by Dido Miles as Mum.
Mum & Dad is really unpleasant. It sets out to shock (and succeeds), though don’t expect to leave without feeling drained and/or a little ill. The Hills Have Eyes remake managed to feel both justified and satisfying after all the brutality, whereas Mum & Dad seems to enjoy itself just a little too much.Rating: