Mom and Dad

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momanddad
Cage gives a subdued performance.

[In theaters and Video on Demand.] ••• Brian Taylor, who co-directed the “Crank” movies, “Gamer,” and “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” with fellow adrenaline junkie Mark Neveldine, strikes out on his own with “Mom and Dad” demonstrating that he doesn’t need any help coming up with bonkers ideas for movies and executing them with maniacal glee. Of course, it helps to have Nicolas Cage, patron saint of bonkers movies, in the cast.

The premise is one any parent can relate to: What if you wanted to just straight-up murder your stupid kids? In this case, there’s a virus (or something; the movie doesn’t elaborate) that infects an entire city’s parents with an insatiable desire to kill their offspring — only their own, though; they would never harm another child. Cage and Selma Blair are a bored couple who fall victim to the hysteria, with Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur as the son and daughter who have to defend themselves. Though Blair is actually the main character (and handles the black comedy with aplomb), Cage gives a few vintage line readings that will be added to the canon of quotations and GIFs, and his presence gives the cheerfully distasteful story some credibility.

Taylor wisely doesn’t get too graphic with the child deaths (yes, there are some), going for gonzo thrills rather than cheap exploitation and getting laughs by turning familiar, wholesome sights — like new fathers gazing through the window into the hospital nursery — into horror. Story threads like the Selma Blair character fretting about aging and a schoolteacher talking about “planned obsolescence” feel like dead weight, lacking the thematic resonance Taylor intended. But then Lance Henriksen shows up as Nic Cage’s father, and all is well.

B- (1 hr., 23 min.; R, disturbing horror violence, language throughout, some sexual content/nudity.)