Mum & Dad
If you appreciate black humour and have a strong stomach there’s much to be admired in Steven Sheil’s low budget British horror. Exploiting the ongoing trend for torture porn, it transports the sadomasochistic splatter-fest of the Hostel and Saw series from Eastern Europe and urban America to an English working class suburban home on the outskirts of Heathrow airport. Within the confines of this modest two-up, two-down unfortunate Romanian migrant worker Lena (Olga Fedori) discovers just how dysfunctional a family of four can be when she’s lured into a domestic nightmare by chatterbox lavatory cleaner co-worker Birdie (Ainsley Howard) and her mute brother (Toby Alexander) and subsequently serially abused by their Mum (Dido Miles) and Dad (Perry Benson, recently seen in more benign form in Shane Meadows’ Somers Town).
There’s more going on in Mum & Dad than initially meets the eye. Where its American torture porn cousins amount to nothing more than gruesome joyrides, Sheil’s film, while pretty extreme in its own right (the Christmas Day climax shouldn’t be watched while eating turkey), also gives good sardonic commentary on the inherently perverse nature of the family unit. The home-made torture might recall the real-life horror of Josef Fritzl, but it’s the Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel that’s proper inspiration for this modern fairytale.
Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 26 Dec.