M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters
m.o.m. mothers of monsters | tucia lyman | sevan aliksanian | edward asner | janet ulrich brooks | found footage | found-footage | thriller | julian de la celle | bailey edwards | melinda page hamilton | lili pepper | spencer scott
Film: M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters
Director: Tucia Lyman
Writer: Tucia Lyman
Starring: Sevan Aliksanian, Edward Asner and Janet Ulrich Brooks
This was a movie that I heard about from some podcasts that I listen to. They compared it to something like We Need to Talk About Kevin, which I randomly watched when I was working at Family Video and haven’t been able to watch it again as it was pretty heavy. Since I needed a 2020 horror film and with theaters shut down currently, I thought this would make a good film to cover. The synopsis is a bit long so I’m going to doctor it down a bit. A distraught mother suspects her teenage son is plotting a school shooting, but when he slips through the cracks of the system, she’s forced to take matters into her own hands.
For this movie, it is a little bit difficult to talk about in the fact that we have some moving parts here. This is a found-footage film that is following mostly Abbey Bell (Melinda Page Hamilton). She is the mother of Jacob (Bailey Edwards). She has suspicions that her son, like the synopsis states, that he could be a psychopath that is planning to do a school shooting. We are then given information as to why she thinks that.
Since this is all told through home movies, her recordings on her phone along with security cameras within the house. She also has access to her son’s iCloud, so she is pulling off footage from there as well that he is taking with himself, his friend Greg (Julian de la Celle) and his girlfriend Lillie (Lili Peper).
Abbey is a single mother who is trying to convince doctors that Jacob is insane. He has been checked out by quite a few doctors and psychiatrists who keep clearing him. She believes that he’s just outsmarting them and she also recounts a discussion with her mother, Nana Millie (Janet Ulrich Brooks), that this will all go on Jacob’s personal record. The interesting thing here is that Jacob does have mood swing issues. He has a pretty explosive temper, which we do get to see. On top of that, he has been expelled from schools. He has a pretty sick sense of humor and a bleak look at society as well as life.
The question then becomes, from the evidence that is presented, is Jacob as crazy as his mother believes him to be? Or is she the one with mental issues that she is projecting on to her son and that she is actually the one that really needs to have someone to speak with?
Not wanting to continue to repeat myself, but this does have some intriguing ideas here that are presented in a natural way with found-footage and a good time for this to come out. Abbey’s initial issue is that her son is going to shoot up the school and this is backed-up with a project that he did. He has a perfect explanation as to why he added the people that he did. He did have to receive treatment which brings up where Nana was upset this information was provided to the authorities. What is interesting here though as I feel if some of the Columbine kids had a parent like this, I don’t know if that would happen like it did. It could be naïve on my part, but from what I’ve learned there, the parents were somewhat neglectful and need to shoulder some of that blame.
I do admit this ignoring by the doctor’s does seem to be somewhat unrealistic in this day and age. I do say that, but the farther this movie goes on, the more I start to think that Abbey is obsessed and kind of seems like she’s projecting as well. She is so convinced that she’s right and I would say, she does push Jacob some of the way where she should be to blame why he is lashing out as well. There’s also this change in her that is depressing where she says she loves him, but knows she probably can’t stop him as no one will help her. She is then convinced that all she can do is release this footage, detailing what he’s doing, to show that she is for ‘Mothers of Monsters’ so it can hopefully help someone else.
That’s not to say she doesn’t have some things that she’s right about though. She finds some creepy things in his closet so I will admit, I like introducing us to this stuff. Abbey is harboring some things and she is showing signs that she’s crazy and the same could be said for Jacob. Legitimately, it could be that she passed these traits down to him to be honest. I do want to have a slight spoiler section at the end of this as well to delve more into the twist of the movie.
Not everything about this movie though worked for me. I do think that it runs a bit long. I thought that it was up over 1 hour and 40 minutes, but looking at it, it is just under that. I think that about 8 minutes or a bit more could have been cut from this and it would tighten up to be honest. I don’t want to make this sound like it is boring, that’s not the case. What I think here though is that some scenes run a bit too long and it bogs it down. I never got bored though and as some of this was quite powerful. I definitely felt more and more uncomfortable to the creepy ending for sure.
What also makes it powerful though is the acting. Hamilton and Edwards are both amazing. I did kind of think he’s portrayal does have him come off as kind of a jerk who is quite disrespectful. I do know people who are similar to him and I’ll admit, I probably had shades of this myself in my younger days. What is scary though is some of the lengths that Abbey is going to try that her son is insane, which is sad to be honest. The rest of the cast though are really good at developing these two main characters more and helping us to get a better picture. This is especially true for Dr. Howard Arden (Edward Asner), Nana and Lillie.
The last thing to go over would be the effects, which thankfully they aren’t a lot of them. This isn’t that type of movie and the effects here are things that are legitimate. The different types of footage are good and I like that we get a bit of diversity there. The more that we get also makes me question Abbey more and more. Seeing the climax play out felt real and quite terrifying to be honest, which being found-footage really does add to that element for sure.
Now with that said, this film isn’t the best in this subgenre that I’ve seen, but I like the idea they’re exploring with it. The acting really helps this and I think the diversity of footage is good, but also helps build even more of that sense of realism. There’s not a lot in the way of effects, but it also doesn’t need them. I’m glad that they didn’t put a soundtrack on this as it is diegetic and feels like it is really coming from the cameras. I think mine might have been off-sync at times with Jacob, but I don’t know if that is from a different camera microphone picking up the sound. I still think that We Need to Talk About Kevin is more powerful, but this has a dark turn that really made me uncomfortable here. During these times, I would actually recommend this to horror and non-horror fans alike. After this initial viewing, I’m going to come in with an above average movie. I do want to see this again to see how I feel knowing how things play out.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10
With everything that I’ve laid out above, we see that Jacob has quite the temper. His mother won’t give back his PlayStation with how he is acting and she wants him to go visit his father. She purchases him a bus ticket and everything. Well he doesn’t go. He stays home and just hangs out, realizing that there’s a camera in the picture frame as well as the smoke detector in his room. He then searches out the media room that Abbey hid in the back of her closet. When she comes home, she calls her ex and gives her phone to Jacob. He locks himself in his closet, with her phone.
We get a creepy scene that night where he comes into her room, videoing her while she sleeps. She wakes up to find that the picture frame and the camera from his room are now in hers. She goes to leave the room and is zapped, knocking her out. When she comes to, she is tied up on a chair, with the cameras pointing at her and Jacob on one of them. He has secretly learned about her brother and his killing spree as well as found her footage about him from what she was documenting. He comes up with a new plan that involves her recording a new ending that fits what he thinks. When things don’t go as planned, he locks her in her closet and holds her hostage there. She did share a dream earlier in the movie that is now coming true. What I like here though, it kind of feels like it is trying to go supernatural, but I don’t think that’s the case. He has discovered this information and messes with her.
The crazy thing is he isn’t as depraved as we think. Seeing the footage from how it is presented, we think that he’s snapped. We do see though that he was messing with her from a quick video he made and was going to show her. The problem though, he has caused her to snap and that she is also crazy. Now that she has snapped, there’s nothing he can do and we get a creepy ending, going back to the dream she told to Dr. Arden.