review for Mother's Day on AllMovie

Mother's Day (2011)
by Jeremy Wheeler review

Director Darren Lynn Bousman certainly knows what elements of the original Mother's Day film he wants to pay homage to -- mostly, the details. Gone are the black humor and over-the-top performances (not to mention the shock ending); instead, the Saw II-IV filmmaker inserts small tributes into what is now a standard sadistic home-invasion thriller. While this remake isn't incompetent, only an audience that really likes the contemporary school of torture-based filmmaking will really connect with the work. Although the relationships between the antagonists put a slightly interesting spin on the bloody proceedings, this is basically a safe approach -- put a group of beautiful people in a house with some homicidal white guys playing games with them and boom, there's your cookie-cutter horror movie. It's worth noting that Mother's Day was shelved for quite a while before seeing the light of day, but in the end it's just another brutal remake to stand alongside such forgettable redos as Funny Games and Straw Dogs.

The story follows the Koffins, a cruel family of crooks who descend on a house that used to belong to the matriarch of the family, known simply as Mother (deliciously played by Rebecca De Mornay). When the three Koffin boys, fresh from a bank robbery that has left one of them injured, bust into a house party being held by the new owners, they put a call out to Mother to come fix the sticky situation. What Mother doesn't know is that during the time her home was in foreclosure, the boys had kept sending money to the house, which is now owned by Beth (Jaime King) and Daniel (Frank Grillo). Thus begins a game of wills between the occupants and dear old mom, who won't leave until she gets the dough that's coming to her. Oh yes, and there's a tornado outside, but don't think about that too much -- the filmmakers sure didn't.

As previously stated, Mother's Day isn't a badly crafted movie, but it's certainly lacking in the smarts department. Characters routinely pass up opportunities to off their captors just so they can run away, get captured, and then get beaten up again and again. The picture almost devolves into slapstick, but that's not quite right, as there's not enough shabbiness to the acting to make any of it fun. The film is very serious, which gets rather monotonous when the last act is one beating after another. Other than De Mornay's villainous charm, Patrick Flueger impresses as the oldest son, lending a sympathetic edge to the character. If cinematic brutality is your thing, then maybe Mother's Day is for you…just be sure to check out Charles Kaufman's worthy original before heaping too much praise on this rather forgettable reboot.