New Releases for Tuesday, March 10, 2020
M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters
Genre: Horror/Found Footage
Directed by: Tucia Lyman
Run time: 98 minutes
The Lowdown: When I met my wife 18 years ago, one of the first things she told me was that she was biologically unable to have children, and if that was a dealbreaker, she would understand.
Obviously, I told her that wasn’t a dealbreaker, and I still stand by that decision today.
Over the years, however, as many friends and couples experienced the joy of creating life, I found myself thinking about the stress and anxiety they might feel, the unknown scenarios that might take root, especially as our world continued to spin out in crazy, unexpected ways with mass shootings at schools, the rise of homegrown extremists and the proliferation of easy-to-get inspiration from the dark web.
Well, it turns out I wasn’t alone.
Tucia Lyman’s debut feature, M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters, takes all of those maternal concerns and creates an edge-of-your-seat found-footage thriller that is as harrowing and terrifying as it is expertly constructed and realized.
Abbey Bell (Melinda Page Hamilton), a single mom, is secretly documenting concerning changes in her son Jacob’s (Bailey Edwards) behavior. And she has been recording him at different points in his life since an early age. Now, with hundreds of videos stored on a server, she has become convinced that a fuse has been lit and Jacob is about to do something awful.
For a recent geometry project at school, Jacob drew a detailed schematic of the boy’s locker room showing high-volume traffic areas as well as secluded cubbies where someone could hide. She holds up on camera a pellet gun that Jacob converted into an automatic weapon.
She’s already reported him to authorities once, only to be ignored.
“I’m making this for all the other moms out there who know they have a bad kid, but they still love him because he’s your son,” she says at one point, staring into the camera.
M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters is, at times, uncomfortable to watch. It’s incredibly intense and feels very real, very ‘of this moment,’ very much like a projection of fears that a lot more people that you might suspect actually harbor about their children.
It’s a fantastic first effort from Lyman, and definitely deserves to be seen and shared.
The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Not really that kind of flick.
Nudity – No. Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – We need to talk about Jacob.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
The Witch: Subversion (Well Go USA, 125 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): The new South Korean import, The Witch: Subversion, has a few brief moments where it makes the most of its teen-aged mashup of The Long Kiss Goodnight and Carrie, and in those sequences, you get a taste of the roller-coaster thrill ride that The Witch: Subversion could have been.
But, at two-plus-hours, with a lot of time devoted to family drama and a subplot about a popular reality singing competition, too much of The Witch is spent waiting for something spectacular to happen.
That’s not to say it’s not a well-made, thought-provoking movie that mixes in action elements with a core narrative about a top-secret government facility that conducted experiments on children to create telekinetic super-soldiers.
I like the main heroine, Ja-yoon (Da-mi Kim), who escaped the facility as a child and has lived with amnesia on a secluded farm with her adoptive parents, completely unaware of her underlying abilities, and I also enjoyed the dynamic between Ja-yoon and another boy from the facility, whose powers rival her own, who becomes her main antagonist along with his crew of killer enhanced teens.
I just wanted more – more POP, more WOW, more OMG moments.
Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary (Dark Sky Films, 103 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary, a Brazilian horror-comedy from 2018, is a rare misstep by Dark Sky Films, which usually shines a light on lesser-known indie horror efforts that deserve must-see status.
And, at least through its effective opening, which focuses on high school students playing a variation of the classic Bloody Mary urban legend, there is ample evidence to suggest Ghost Hunters vs. Bloody Mary may rival classic English-language horror-comedies.
Once the film pivots to its main characters, a small foursome called The Ghoulbusters, who make viral paranormal investigation videos online, things slowly then quickly fall apart.
Of course, the Ghoulbusters are not equipped to handle a real paranormal happening. Their show is garbage, and rapidly losing viewership. But as anyone who has ever watched a horror movie, I.e. you and me, knows, it doesn’t matter whether the good guys are very good in the beginning. What matters is how they eventually band together to secure victory in the end.
Hell, even Ghostbusters, which clearly was a huge influence on director/co-writer Fabricio Bittar, allowed for Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddemore to make mistakes early on, to maybe not take things as seriously at first.
The problem here is that none of The Ghoulbusters are likeable. They are mean to one another. They leave a team member behind when bad shit happens. They don’t care about actually proving the existence of spirits. They’re loud, obnoxious and hard to watch.
Bittar tries to distract his audience by peppering his script with shout-outs to better movies and TV shows, including Ghostbusters and Stranger Things.
“Why did we have to find a ghost that wants to kill us all,” one team member asks. “Why not Slimer? Or at least Casper, he’s friendly.”
It should speak volumes that the best moment of the film, at least as far as I was able to watch, was when one member of The Ghoulbusters gets killed with a pretty rad exploding head gag.
If the only time your audience pays attention is when you kill off a central character, that should be a telltale sign that your movie is not performing as well as expected.
Masked and Anonymous
The Ten Commandments – 1923 & 1956 Feature Films
Now on Video-on-Demand:
Transference (Epic Pictures/Dread, 88 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): Transference is part The Fury and part Fight Club, but this supernatural telekinetic thriller fails to coalesce in a way that makes for easy or enjoyable viewing.
Joshua (Jeremy Ninaber) has spent years protecting his sister Emma (Melissa Joy Boerger) from being captured by a government agent who wants to harvest her psychic abilities for military use.
Joshua also has a touch of ability himself, which he conjures forth whenever he participates in underground fight competitions to make money to support their nomadic existence.
It’s possible that Transference improves the longer it plays out, but simply speaking for myself, I was only able to suffer through about 30 minutes before my eyelids got heavy and my attention waned.