Just when you thought Falcon’s parents were insane, let me introduce you to Mum & Dad. Parents with incredibly high values and even higher expectations from their kids, but these aren’t pageant mom’s we’re talking about here folks. Instead of making their kids learn dance moves, go tanning, and wear bedazzled sparkle motion inspired outfits, Mum & Dad expect their kids to provide them with new children to support their sadistic habits. The entire family lives near an airport, where Dad and both his children Birdy (Ainsley Howard) and Elbie (Toby Alexander) also work. The family makes extra cash and keep’s their wardrobe fresh by stealing from the cargo holds and offices at the airport - which is also where they find new brothers and sisters to bring home to expand this loving family.
Lena (Toby Alexander), a Polish immigrant who just moved to the area, makes acquaintances with Birdy while working together at the airport. Birdy tries to invite Lena out for drinks, but Lena isn’t interested and just wants to head home after her long day at work. Unfortunately for Lena, she misses her bus ride back home and Birdy talks Lena into coming home with her and Elbie to try and get a ride from there. Lena reluctantly agrees and goes to their house, which turns out to be a very big mistake when she meets Birdy and Elbie’s Mum & Dad.
What looks like a normal set of parents on the surface, Mum & Dad are actually a demented couple of people with a skewed view of what it means to be a family. After drugging and imprisoning Lena, she is explained the rules of the home. Basically, if she is a good girl, she will have a roof over her head, food on the table, and clothes on her back. If she misbehaves, she will be left to the devices of Dad, a homicidal maniac who doubles as a sexual deviant. Dad spends a lot of his time behind closed doors doing unspeakable things to previous bad children, which is only slightly seen at first, but it is clear that you want absolutely nothing to do with what he is up to. Mum, looks at Lena as her new daughter and shows how much she loves her by scarring her body with sharp instruments which are referred to as “battle wounds.” Seems like a pretty shitty thing, but if Lena doesn’t go along with it and resists the torture in any way, that would be considered misbehaving and lead to some alone time spent with Dad.
Mum & Dad is a 2008 British film written and directed by feature length first timer, Steven Sheil. Sheil does a solid job for a newb and has a strong sense of movie making ability. He successfully creates tension for most of the running time as there is always a lurking fear that Dad might snap at any moment. Mum & Dad is a torture porn film (a term I am iffy about…actually, I kinda hate it) in how the story unfolds for the protagonist as well as how the film looks stylistically. There are the dingy, dirty dungeon looking bedrooms that you would expect from a movie of this genre, but there is also a contrasting other aspect of their home that looks very prim and proper. Very much like Mum & Dad themselves. A nice glossy veneer, but filled with madness and chaos just beneath the surface.
Everything is lit nicely and there’s this very creepy and effectively odd score that is less musical and more of a pulsating sound - like feedback or static radio signal. Some of the things in this movie are unsurprisingly VERY harsh, but that’s to be expected with a film of this nature. This isn’t like a Martyrs harsh (or a Martyrs good), but there are some very sick moments and Lena is constantly physically and mentally abused throughout the movies runtime. There is one scene in particular involving Lena, a suitcase, a mallet, and a very unhappy Dad that is a little on the tough side to watch. Some of the scenes involving Mum and her torturous habits are jarring, especially in how she administers them in such a loving way. Heck, even at the dinner table nothing is sacred and while being set in a very normal looking kitchen, instead of BBC or Soccer playing on the tele, there is hardcore porno on.
Dido Miles who plays Mum and Perry Benson as Dad are both fantastic in there roles and play some of the most callous and merciless parents ever to appear on screen. John and Kate Never seemed like such great parents all of the sudden when watching these two go to work. Both of the children are pretty good with Ainsley Howard showing a strong performance as the manipulative Birdy - Toby Alexander as Elbie is decent, but he doesn’t have much to do since his character doesn’t speak. Of course, Mum & Dad hinges on Olga Fedori as Lena and she does a nice job playing a very physically demanding role, and it’s hard not to find yourself hoping she will refrain from making any mistakes and pissing off the crazed parents.
Overall the movie is well paced, but after a while it starts to get a little tiring and I began losing some interest around the end of the second act. While I do enjoy some of the films that this genre type has to offer, watching a movie like this can be a little taxing with the whole punish, torture, abuse, rinse, repeat. However, the last twenty five minutes or so make some of the slump more than bearable. Starting with the most demented Christmas celebration ever my eyes have witnessed, complete with human decorations and all, Mum & Dad hits a wicked high with its insanity, which then leads to a fantastic finale that totally pays off.
In the end, Mum & Dad is a solid film made for a very modest budget (£100,000 in British pounds, which equals to roughly 160 thousand U.S. dollars) and does a lot with a very little thanks to some great direction by Steven Sheil and solid acting from the cast. There are a few points where the film gets a little stale and if you’re not a big fan of torture porn styled films, then you will more than likely not change your view after seeing Mum & Dad, therefore, you shouldn’t bother. There was enough positive in the movie for me to enjoy it overall and the end is what sealed the deal for me in how the events unfolded and concluded in a very satisfying fashion. If you can handle seeing a father nut in an organ he used to masturbate, only to see it ooze out a little when he’s done, then you should know whether or not you would want to see Mum & Dad. torture