Mom and Dad (2017) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

Mom and Dad (2017) explained poster
It’s nothing like Home Alone

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at the 2017’s dark comedy Mom and Dad

A brother and sister attempt to survive their parents after the latter are affected by a mass hysteria that causes all parents to ruthlessly kill their children.

Is Mom and Dad (2017) Scary?

Nah Mom and Dad is not scary and it even borders on action for a bit. There are no jump scares, barely any gore as kills are done in the background or off-screen, and there are no creepy scenes. In the end, there’s no reason to be scared of or by Mom and Dad unless one of your parents laughs a little too hard while watching this movie.

Plot Synopsis:

The film opens with a woman listening to static on her car radio before she switches it to classical music and she gets out. We see she’s left her child in the backseat and we then pan out to see that the car is sitting on train tracks. As she walks away we see a train come barreling down as we cut to black before it smashes into the car. But I think we can agree that child is dead.

Title screen and a 1970s-style credit sequence which I think saves me some work…

There are a couple of other characters but I have a self-imposed four-screenshot limit per section so there’s that. Plus the most important are the Ryans (pictured above); father and husband Brent Ryan (played by Nicolas Cage), mother and wife Kendall Ryan (played by Selma Blair), teen daughter Carly (played by Anne Winters), and Josh (played by Zackary Arthur).  

We open with Carly talking on her cell with her boyfriend Damon (played by Robert T. Cunningham) as he bike rides to school to take the PSATs. She makes plans with him that night but we get our first signs that Carly’s parents aren’t in the know about the relationship.

A very short time later, the family is downstairs in the kitchen eating breakfast while the housekeeper Sun-Yi (played by Sharon Gee), and her daughter Jin-Lisa clean up. Her daughter appears to be a young teen so I guess the Ryans don’t care about labor laws.

The family's housekeeper Sun-Yi in 2017's Mom and Dad
That’s a violation

The family starts arguing when Kendall informs them Brent’s parents will be visiting them for dinner so Carly can’t go meet up with her boyfriend. We also learn Kendall’s sister is pregnant with her first child and is due any minute. 

Kendall drives Carly to school and we see a quick flashback of Carly stealing some of Kendall’s money. The two argue about how distant they’re growing and Carly blows up telling her mom she has no life. 

Back at home, we start to see signs of Brent losing it when he, for some reason, curses out Sun Li under his breath and death stares Josh although he plays it off as a joke. Honestly, with Nicolas Cage, it’s really hard to tell whether it was a joke or not. As he hops in his car, Brent looks around his surroundings and has a flashback of when he was younger in a sports car having sex with a girl.

At school, Carly’s friend Riley (played by Olivia Crocicchia) gets her phone taken away by the teacher because she was rocking out to music in class. She wasn’t even trying to hide it. Carly then texts Damon immediately after watching her friend’s phone gets taken away so her phone also gets taken away. What did she think was going to happen?

Carly gets her phone taken away in 2017's Mom and Dad
“Listen, shits about to go down and the script requires you not to have your phones.”

At the house, Josh is playing with a toy because apparently, 9-year-olds don’t have school. We then flashback to Josh saving an injured kitten from some crows and placing it in a box in his dad’s sports car in an attempt to save it. Sometime later he goes back and sees the kitten is now dead but runs when he hears his dad arriving.

Brent opens the car door, sees the dead cat, and flips out. The flashback is interrupted when Josh hears Jin-Lisa scream and we hear her getting hit with something. It’s implied it’s the meat tenderizer that Sun-Yi was using just moments before the flashback started.

Meanwhile, at the school, Carly and Riley buy some drugs using the money Carly stole and hear an alarm blaring in the halls. All the kids exit the school and the two see someone’s mother getting dragged away by cops. At the school gates, dozens of parents are demanding their children while they’re being held back by school security and police.

At Damon’s testing center, he finishes his exam and sees multiple parents standing outside the door like lions watching their prey. He exits and the parents don’t seem interested in him letting him pass unscathed. It appears that the thing that is causing the parents to want to kill their children, only makes them want to kill their own children.

Back with Carly and Riley at the school, the parents are becoming irate as they’re behind held back behind gates demanding they get their children. One of the kids jumps the gates and is grabbed by his mother who immediately stabs him with her keys. We don’t see him die but pretty sure these parents are going to the kill shot.

Now that the jig is up and the teachers, security, and students know parents are trying to kill their kids, all the parents start climbing the gates. The kids run from the school as we see parents tackling, suffocating, and stabbing their children. Carly and Riley stick together and are able to make it to Riley’s car.

Meanwhile, Damon arrives home and is attacked by his father who uses a broken glass bottle to slash his arm. 

Damon's dad tries to kill him in 2017's Mom and Dad
When someone comes at you with a broken bottle, that’s your cue to run

Damon is able to push a table under his father causing him to fall and stab himself in the neck. So running is not always the best option, I guess. Even as his father is bleeding out, he is still trying to grab Damon to kill him. Damon’s dad dies as we zoom into a tv playing static leading us to believe this is caused by some kind of signal being sent through static tv.

After a dance class with Riley’s mom, Kendall realizes Carly stole her money. A short time later as she gets in her car we see a flashback where Kendall attempted to get her old job at a media company back but is turned down by a very handsy former boss. In the present Kendall gets a call that her sister is going into labor.

Riley and Carly arrive at Riley’s home where Carly immediately turns on the television to find out what’s going on as Riley decides that shit is boring and does some drugs. While Riley realizes her mom is home and heads upstairs, Carly sees a news report of other parents killing their children. 

There’s then a cameo by snake-oil salesman Mehmet Oz who spouts some overly exaggerated numbers on pigs who kill their own piglets in an attempt to explain why parents are trying to kill their children. Carly realizes that Riley is missing and heads upstairs where she finds her being killed by her mother. 

Riley's mom kills her in 2017's Mom and Dad
“It’s not what it looks like unless you think I killed Riley because that did happen.”

Kendall arrives at the hospital where she sees a news report with some more talking heads trying to give a reason for the parental attacks. Though they’re unclear on what causes it, they are assuming it could have been due to terrorists, hysteria, or neurotoxins. 

Kendall’s sister arrives and after she gives birth we see one of the televisions switch to static, this immediately causes her to attempt to kill her baby. Luckily Kendall is able to save the baby and security arrives with a nurse to take the baby. Meanwhile, Carly is running home when she’s found by Damon who says they have to rush back to her house to save Josh.

The two enter the home and see Sun-Yi cleaning up her daughter’s blood. After sending Sun-Yi home, Carly heads upstairs to get Josh, finding him hiding under his bed. At first, Josh refuses to get out but then says he needs his backpack first. Damon waits downstairs and is started by Brent who has arrived home really early. 

Brent assumes Damon was there having sex with Carly and starts to aggressively lecture him on how he knows what 17-year-olds want since he was young once. Before he can do anything, Carly and Josh come downstairs and Josh stupidly calls out to his dad. Brent turns, sees his children, and goes into murder mode.

Brent sees his children in 2017's Mom and Dad
The face of kids who just fucked up

Brent rushes at the kids but Damon grabs him causing the two to struggle. Brent easily overpowers him and punches him in the head knocking him out. Carly and Josh run as Brent chases them but he eventually slips on one of Josh’s toys causing him to get knocked out. Meanwhile, Carly and Josh run to the basement and lock the door.

In the unfinished basement, the two see the remains of a pool table. In a flashback we see Brent build a pool table but then use a sledgehammer to destroy it when Kendall confronts him about the purchase. The two then discuss what they had to give up when they had children and how who they are now is much different than what they wanted.

In the present Kendall drives up to the house and as she hears the radio telling parents to stay away from their children, it switches to static which infects her. Kendall enters the house and wakes up Brent who tells her the kids are in the basement. 

She tries to calmly get Carly to open the door but Carly refuses. Brent loses it and hilariously demands they open the door before he breaks down. Kendall then decides to get an electric saw which doesn’t work at first but after Brent heads upstairs to get something else, the saw starts to pierce through the door.

Turns out the thing Brent was getting was a gun that he kept in a case under the bed but when he opens it, he sees it’s empty. Two gunshots are heard and Kendall starts to scream. We see Josh had the gun in his backpack and has shot through the door hitting Kendall in the arm. Brent rushes downstairs and Kendall demands an explanation for the gun.

Kendall angrily tells him that 1 in 5 children’s injuries involve firearms which is funny coming from the mother who is currently trying to break down a door to kill some kids. We then see a flashback of Josh finding the gun, opening the case, and playing with the gun.

In the present Brent cleans up and bandages Kendall’s arm as she develops a plan to gas out the kids. The two connect one end of a hose to the stove’s gas pipe and snake the other end through the basement window. Kendall then piles dirt on the window and tapes shut holes made by the saw on the basement door.

Kendall puts a hose with gas into the basement window in 2017's Mom and Dad
Silver lining: Brent and Kendall are finally bonding, sure it’s in an attempt to kill their kids but a plus is a plus, right?

That night while searching for a way out of the basement, Carly finds a grate leading into the walls and finds a matchbox. She tapes several matches to the bottom of the basement door and tapes the match strike paper of the box directly under the matches.

After hearing Carly and Josh coughing, Brent and Kendall decide it’s now the time to break into the basement. Using the saw Brent finishes sawing the lock off as the kids enter the walls through the grate. Brent opens the door causing the matches to ignite and, with the gas, cause a large explosion.

The explosion knocks Brent back and out but Kendall is only thrown back. Meanwhile, the kids exit the walls through the second floor and Carly is spotted by Kendall holding a meat tenderizer. Kendal gives chase and corners Carly in the master bedroom, the two fight but Damon appears and helps lock Kendall in the closet.

Damon and Carly laugh at their misfortune but are interrupted by Josh who accidentally distracts Carly long enough for Kendall to reach her hand out of the closet. Kendall swipes at the two with a thin metal hanger and is able to stab Damon through the cheek. Carly and Damon run out of the room as he pulls the hanger out of his face.

Kendall rushes at Carly with the meat tenderizer but Damon pushes her out of the way and gets hit. The hit pushes him back causing him to fall over the railing and down onto the first floor. He’s totally dead now.

Carly and Josh run downstairs and guess who has survived an explosion to the face? A somewhat burned Brent with an electric saw appears and, along with Kendall, corners the children in the kitchen. Before they can kill them, the doorbell rings and Kendall remembers Brent’s parents were coming for dinner.

Brent opens the front door to his parents Mel and Barbara (played by Lance Henriksen and Marilyn Dodds Frank) and they immediately attack him. Barbara pepper sprays Brent while Mel slashes at his stomach with a hunting knife. Mel goes in for the kill but is interrupted by Josh who begs him not to kill Brent.

Brent then lunges at Josh but he runs towards the garage. Brent gives chase as Mel chases after him with the knife. Meanwhile, Kendall starts to snap out of her urge to kill Carly and tries to convince Barbara not to kill Brent. 

In the garage, Josh jumps into the sports car to avoid Brent now carrying an axe, and turns on the car. Brent breaks through the window but is attacked by Mel who tries to stab him in the heart. Josh escapes the car as Brent and Mel fight inside causing the car to back out and reverse through the garage doors.

Inside the house, Kendall knocks Barbara out with the meat tenderizer and regains the urge to kill Carly. Carly runs out of the house but is hit and knocked down by Kendall. Before Kendall can get the killing blow on Carly, Barbara grabs Kendall’s hair, and the two struggle. Kendall pushes Barbara away as the car breaks through the garage door causing it to hit Barbara and kill her. 

The car crashes into another car which knocks out Brent and sends Mel through the roof window killing him.

Barbara is hit by Brent's sports car and is killed in 2017's Mom and Dad
They say pictures say a thousand words but this one just says “WHAT THE FUCK?”

An amazed Kendall turns back to a groggy Carly but is knocked out by Damon with a shovel as we cut to black. Honestly, if someone can survive an explosion to the face then I have no problem believing Damon survived the fall down the balcony.

The next morning Kendall and Brent wake up in the basement tied to a pipe and being watched by Josh, Carly, and Damon. Kendall and Brent try to act cured but Brent loses it real quick. The four profess their love for each other and Brent adds “but sometimes we just want to -”. The film ends before he finishes his sentence.


Mom and Dad is pretty good although I do think the ending is a bit disappointing. It felt like the writer thought of a good idea for a film and then decided not to think more of the plot OR the writer wrote themselves in a hole and just decided to cut to black to end it.

This makes the movie feel incomplete, sure the emotional arc of the movie is done because the family all say they love each other but that wasn’t the biggest arc of the movie. It’s sort of like if you’re really craving pizza with a tall glass of your favorite drink and you only get the drink but you smell the pizza.

It’s also extremely clear the whole movie is about the feeling a lot of parents have at some point when they look back on their lives and are conflicted about their feelings because of the things they couldn’t do after having children. The movie even opens with the song “Yesterday When I was Young” performed by Dusty Springfield.

Unfortunately, we’re kind of beaten over the head with this message, and then it ends with that line that leaves the ending ambiguous. Do Brent and Kendall still want to kill the kids? Are parents all over the country still trying to kill their kids?

Other than that, the movie was well-acted by everyone, the dialogue is good if not predictable, and the story (except the ending) was entertaining. The movie is even funny, especially some of Nicolas Cage’s reactions as well as some of the parent’s reactions after killing their kids.

Overall I recommend Mom and Dad if you’re looking for a fun movie to pass the time.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 75% – Weirdly Rotten Tomatoes lists Mom and Dad as a 2-hour and 3 min movie, it’s actually like 85 minutes (1 hour and 25 minutes)

Metacritic – 59

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