Stars: Randy Quaid, Mary Beth Hurt, Sandy Dennis
Genre: Black Comedy, Horror
Parents is an odd little film that didn't meet my expectations at all. I mean that in the best way possible. I was expecting a campy B-movie horror flick, but what I got was a surprisingly stylish, suspenseful and overall beautiful film.
Parents takes place in a suburban 1950s home, where a young boy suspects his parents of cannibalism.
The premise is simple enough; boy slowly learns his parents are cannibals. The plot is simple too. It never really deviates from the main idea, and almost all of the film is spent focusing on (a) a boy, and (b) his cannibalistic parents. There's not much filler, or any pointless sub-plots. It gets to the point. This is mostly a good thing, but at times you may desire a bit more complexity or you may grow bored from the single linear premise. The ending may also leave a bit to be desired.
It's a horror comedy so it's never really scary. It has its suspenseful moments, but nothing terrifying or shocking. It can definitely be disturbing to some and it's undoubtedly a twisted tale. It can be funny, in its dark humor way, but its not the laugh out loud hilarious that some other straight comedies go for.
The film really nails the 50s atmosphere. It details its world perfectly from the decor to the fashion to the vocabulary to the mind-state to the music. Very well done atmosphere, not to mention it nails the suburban family flawlessly.
To call Parents so-bad-it's-good would be unfair, because it's actually a very well-crafted and executed film. For one thing it's a very visually pleasing film. Not only do the set and costume design and the wonderful theme paint a pretty picture, but the camera angles and cinematography are absolutely fantastic. The great camera work prevents it from ever feeling like a mere B-movie horror comedy, and at times may even fool you into thinking your watching an arthouse film or something. Some fantastic imagery. I cannot praise the unique camera work and angles enough.
The soundtrack is superb, blending 50s pop with some fitting dark ambient music. It works great and definitely reflects the film's other traits.
The actors all do a good job. Randy Quaid performs great as a creepy dad, Mary Beth Hurt does wonderful as the sympathetic mother, and child-actor Bryan Madorsky does a fine job as well. The characters they play are ones we're all familiar with to some extent but they are performed perfectly and are very well written.
It's a very simple film. Really all it is is a kid and his cannibal parents. It's only barely thought-provoking, it doesn't necessarily do anything new, it never gets deep or overly serious. But hell, it's better that way for a film like this. It may be simple but it does simplicity beautifully and focuses of the details of something so simple.
Watch Parents. I cannot recommend it enough. Hopefully you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Purchase Parents on Amazon: DVD - DVD Double Feature