A distraught mother suspects her teenage son is plotting a school shooting, but when he slips through the cracks of the system, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. After installing an elaborate spy camera system in their home, Abbey captures a series of disturbing videos that confirm her worst fears.
Starring Bailey Edwards and Melinda Hamilton (as Jacob and Abbey Bell) and written and directed by Tucia Lyman, Mothers of Monsters (M.O.M.) is a found footage thriller that pits paranoid mother against depraved son in a suspenseful story of suspicion and circumstance. While advertised as something along the lines of a mother discovering her son’s hidden evil side, the film is far more nuanced than what we are originally led to believe, involving dark and heavy themes like abuse, mental illness, and toxic relationships.
On its surface, M.O.M. is one of hundreds of found footage films where a new director has used (or abused) the genre to make a decent looking film on a tighter budget. This has a tendency to turn people off the film from the start. We have very few sets, barely more than two actors, and little in the way of artistic direction as everything is shot through a webcam, GoPro, or security camera. While I do understand how some find the found footage film stale and overused; lacking in traditional cinematic charm—I do believe that it still has its place in the indie scene when done well. M.O.M. pulls off that feat.
The premise is simple enough: Mom suspects that son is a psychopath and is planning something nefarious. He has outwitted his psychologists, who think him just odd, and is up to no good. In an attempt to prove this, she sets up cameras to show others online this truth. Son discovers her plans and the proverbial tits go up.
Things are, however, not as simple as we are led to believe but dissecting these themes is a little difficult without fumbling over all sorts of spoilers, so here is your *minor spoilers ahead* warning.
M.O.M., while seemingly addressing America’s ammosexual, school-shooty culture, delves a lot deeper into trust, love, loyalty, and parenthood. It questions household relationships, personal privacy, and dependency—both emotional and physical. Also, if you have ever been the bad guy for no good reason except for simply being who you are, this is going to hit a little too close to home. *Heavier spoilers–skip paragraph*
We eventually realise that Jacob has been the bad guy his whole life; his mother always looking at him through whatever the opposite of rose-coloured glasses is. His withdrawn and maniacal behaviour is more than likely a response to his mother’s treatment of him throughout life coupled with what’s probably an awkward, introverted personality. When people only see the worst in you, it’s sometimes simply easier to act out their truth rather than to live your own. *End of spoilers*
Delving into the technical aspects, M.O.M. really has little to praise. The shots are mostly static and the angles unimaginative—but that obviously comes as little surprise. The score is also non-existent, which was somewhat of a let-down. Found footage doesn’t mean that the whole film should be void of flare and I wish Lyman had come up with some clever quirk or technical gimmick to add a bit of bang.
Thankfully, Edwards and Hamilton make up for the lack of technical fanfare as they both deliver outstanding, praiseworthy performances. Each descends down their personal rabbit hole, becoming more unsettling and unhinged as we leap from scene to scene. A lot of potentially powerful indie films have their clever concepts doused in gasoline and set alight; a dumpster fire of great ideas burned by tiny budgets and terrible acting. M.O.M. is assertively the opposite—a mediocre movie (albeit with a clever main concept) saved by some quality performances.
I enjoyed the film overall, with the last act being particularly clever. There is good misdirection and great characters which make it very watchable, but if you aren’t a fan of found footage, you will probably want to steer clear. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
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