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M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters

USA 2020
produced by
Austin Porter, Elaine White
directed by Tucia Lyman
starring Melinda Page Hamilton, Bailey Edwards, Edward Asner, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Julian de la Celle
written by Tucia Lyman

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Abbey's (Melinda Page Hamilton) a single mom who's at times at her wits ends bringing up her son Jacob (Bailey Edwards). And Jacob, he's never been an easy child, has shown streaks of violence and was prone to temper tantrums - and now he's 16, a difficult age to begin with, even more so when dealing with a difficult child. On top of that, Abbey's brother, when he was 16, picked up a gun, went to a popular make-out spot for youngsters, and shot dead some random boys and girls before blowing his own brains out - and now Abbey fears Jacob will turn the same way. To this end, when Jacob's not there, Abbey goes through his things to gather evidence that he's indeed a psychopath - and what she finds sure enough is disturbing, from gun magazines to vivisected lizards to Nazi paraphernalia. So she installs hidden cameras in all rooms to monitor his movements. It's not that she has totally given up on him, she still tries to engage him in conversations - but he's 16, so that's easier said than done. It's not that she sees anything much that would substantiate her fears or beliefs, but it seems her mind is set that he's evil, and even the words of her own therapist (Edward Asner) do little to diffuse her convictions. Then though, Jacob finds the cameras, finds the footage his mom has recorded, finds out what she believes, and decides to have his revenge ...

 

Filmed found footage style, M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters does what films using this approach rarely do, it questions the "truth" of its own footage. Not that it suggests the footage as such has been manipulated, but whatever "evidence" Abbey collects is highly subjective and seems to only serve her point, by and large blending out all that might point to the contrary (it's hinted on in some of the early scenes in the film though). And the more the film advances the more the viewer might get sold on her version of things on one hand, but the more questionable her methods become - as evidenced in the finale, when the tables are turned. And very clever writing, direction and editing make sure to turn all of this into a very engaging puzzle for the viewer, of course also helped by two strong central performances.

Well worth a look!

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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