I don't particularly enjoy films like this, and found myself watching it rather by accident. Within a minute it was clear that this was not going to be a rewarding and enjoyable cinematic experience, but in the interest of watching a British horror film and expanding my filmic horizons slightly, I elected to watch until the end.
Horror films come in all different sizes and flavors. Gore, ghosts, werewolves, suspense, torture and whatnot. Steven Sheil's Mum & Dad, is a little different though. Rather than hit the audience with full-frontal ugliness it gambles on weirdness and plays the freak card. Though some might call it another variation on the crazy family theme, (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) it does contain a more realistic feel. One thing about horror flicks is that you can often derive a lot from the title of the film. The cooler and tougher it sounds, the softer it usually is. And so you have to admit, Mum & Dad leaves a good solid base for some slick and freaky horror fun. Central to the film are both characters referenced in the title. Mum and Dad might look like ordinary people from the outside; they certainly are a little different from your regular household setup. The fun starts when one of their children drags in a Polish immigrant girl (Olga Fedori) who gets "integrated" into the family. It quickly starts to dawn that mum and dad are not as ordinary as they seemed at first and off you go for a good sixty minutes of weirdness. It plays on equal levels of awkwardness, grit and humor which make for a pretty compelling viewing. As much as you are repulsed, you can't take your eyes off the screen.
"Mum & Dad" is obviously a low budget affair and even though Sheil does his best to conceal this fact, from time to time it does look its budget. Visually there are interesting shots and sequences but the overall effect remains pretty inconsistent, with some rather amateurish shots in between. Same goes for the soundtrack of the film. Some dark ambient background music and good use of sound effects, but it never really gels into an audiovisual trip. Luckily mum and dad (played by Dido Miles and Perry Genson) have pretty good acting techniques, making the film a lot more watchable. Their appearance alone, especially dads, gives the film a pretty twisted feel. Fat English accents and an overly greasy facade only add more flair to the family. Both daughter and son are nice additions too, adding their share of weirdness to the whole setup.
While the level of gore is not noteworthy the film is pretty damn filthy in its own right. The creepiness of the family creates a bigger punch for what is actually shown on screen. Add some nicely built up tension near the end and what you have is a pretty well-ordered little horror flick that is sure to compel and repulse at the same time. In the end, enjoyable isn't the word I'd apply to my overall impression of the Mum & Dad, but, this was a job well done, and worth a watch despite the horrific subject matter. Just expect to feel like shit afterwards.
**1/2 out of 4 stars