A mother’s worst nightmare begins to unfold in M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters), a new Thriller. Aha Productions debuted the film at Los Angeles’ Arena Cinelounge starting Friday, March 13th, 2020, though, unfortunately that was cut short due to concerns over the coronavirus. Fortunately, the film is now available on cable and Digital VOD for viewers to check out at home.
Melinda Page Hamilton (Desperate Housewives series, How to Get Away with Murder series) and Bailey Edwards (My Dead Boyfriend 2016, Bright 2017) star as Abbey and Jacob Bell, a single mother and her teenage son. Distraught and convinced that her child is a psychopath, Abbey begins to document his every move with her cell phone and a series of spy cameras. A good student and, at first glance, socially charming, Jacob is increasingly irritated with her antics and begins to lose his temper more frequently.
As her documentary work escalates, Abbey will be forced to ask herself if her son is capable of the nightmarish violence that she fears and, if it comes down to it, can a mother turn against her own child?
Clocking in at 98 minutes, M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) is a feature-length debut for Writer-Director Tucia Lyman (Blade Brothers TV series documentary 2013, Ghosts of Shepherdstown series). It also stars the acting talents of Janet Ulrich Brooks (Divergent 2014, Sense8 series), Edward Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show series, Up 2009), Julian de la Celle (How to Get Away with Murder series, Black-ish series), and more.
Billed as a Thriller, M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) is a thought-provoking Drama steeped in heavy psychology, as well as elements of the Thriller. A real-life tale of horror that reflects on the violence in today’s society, this is a film that seeks to dive beneath the surface and question what makes a sociopath—though it intentionally provides no concrete answers. Meant to inspire discussion, M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) is social commentary packaged as entertainment.
As a film, M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) utilizes the found footage format in an intriguing manner, developing its points through old home movies, cell phone video, Skype sessions, surveillance and spy footage, Cloud files, and more. An intriguingly unique twist on framing a story, unfortunately, this alone cannot keep the film from lagging. Simply put: long before the first act ends, anyone with any psychological background, particularly knowledge of sociopaths, will have this entire mad dance figured out. The cat and mouse game between mother and son is merely that: a slow-moving torment that displays the deep psychological scars worn by each of these two characters.
In their roles as this dastardly duo, Hamilton and Edwards deliver wonderful performances that are the highlight of the film. Hamilton’s Abbey is an alcoholic who exists in severe denial, the ultimate helicopter mom who trails her son around videotaping his every move. With an obvious traumatic past of her own, Abbey is so convinced that her son is a potential killer that she refuses to see her own involvement in the unfolding situation. Portraying the role, Hamilton spends much of her screen time delivering soliloquies from inside a bedroom closet, an outward reflection of her character’s inner denial. Hiding out, Hamilton provides moving moments that dare us to question what we would do if our own child appeared to be a murderer. Where would we turn for help, and would a mother be able to point the finger at her own child? Her words are powerful and deliver much of the thought-provoking meat of the script.
Edwards’ Jacob is exactly what a 16-year-old male should be: pissed off and full of angst; he self-harms and, at the very least, has some serious anger management issues. As the story unfolds, we see things about Jacob that suggest sociopathic tendencies, we question his psychological well-being, but we are also allowed to see his viewpoint, as well. He is an intelligent young man, frustrated and being driven mad by his mother and her paranoid scheming. Edwards’ is able to depict the smarminess of youth, along with the flat affect of a sociopath, all while remaining likable enough to make viewers question who is the villain of this tale. In this, he truly does give an exceptional performance in his complicated and well-rounded role, one that is likely to pave a bright future for the actor.
Playing off one another, alternating between hunter and prey, Hamilton and Edwards anchor the majority of the film with their back and forth. In this, the deeply dysfunctional relationship between the two is presented in all its messed up glory, and we understand that, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Unfortunately, it is this painfully obvious plot line that dooms the film, as it is one that barely needs to unfold to be understood; which leaves a movie that is completely lacking in thrills.
M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) falls somewhere between 2018’s The Clovehitch Killer and 2019’s The Bellwether, a film that, as a social commentary, says so very much, but somehow just feels rather bland as entertainment. A launching pad for debate, much like 2020’s Beneath Us, it’s powerful in its subject matter, going so far as to raise the age-old debate of nature versus nurture. Unfortunately, this timely and pertinent discussion is packaged in a rather obvious and predictable vehicle, but one that is captained by two shining stars. For these conflicting reasons, Cryptic Rock gives M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) 3.5 of 5 stars.