Mum And Dad

Mum And Dad

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Scott Macdonald's film review of Mum And Dad

On 26th December, 2008, a small piece of history is being made. Steven Sheil's Mum & Dad will be the first UK film ever to receive a full multi-platform release, appearing in cinemas at the same time as being available on retail and rental DVD, via electronic sell-through, video-on-demand and pay-per-view. One might suppose that such a marketing strategy is all that could save this microbudget British horror (made though Film London's Microwave scheme) from disappearing into obscurity, but here that is something to celebrate rather than scorn. Nasty, brutish and short, Sheil's film deserves to be seen by any self-avowed genre fan, not least for the unique way that it marries American notions of horrific family dysfunction to a very British form of domestic satire – think The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as directed by Mike Leigh. The acting, too, is a cut above.

Revolver's DVD release deserves points for the sheer number of extras that appear on it – not just a full commentary, but Q&As, on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage – although for a feature so short and focused, this inevitably leads to a certain amount of repetition. Writer/director Sheil and his producer Lisa Trnovski offer a charming audio commentary, but at times seem left with little to say beyond describing the scenes playing out before them. Highlights include the revelations that Perry Benson (as Dad) has "actually got very lovely feet", but gamely "did his own bottom stunts" – and we also learn that despite the centrality of the film's Heathrow airport setting (where Sheil grew up), it was in fact almost all, apart from a few establishing scenes, shot in Nottingham (with five different locations serving as Mum & Dad's house).

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Over several interviews, the cast and crew tell tales of the fun of horror sets and the inventiveness required on a shoot budgeted at less than £100,000 ("definitely make your own blood," advises SFX supervisor Simon Craze) – while in the brief behind-the-scenes section, Benson manages to invest even the phrase "would you risk it for a biscuit?" with absurd menace.

Elsewhere Sheil comments (twice) on Dario Argento's great influence on his work, and for those viewers left puzzled about what connects the king of giallo to Sheil's familial feature, the inclusion of Sheil's three-minute short film Through A Vulture Eye represents something of a missing link, paying full homage to a truly crazy idea (the existence of machines that can read the last image seen by a retina at the moment of death) first found in Argento's Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971).

Timing is everything. The final, darkly macabre scenes of Sheil's feature are set around a Christmas lunch, making this a welcome alternative to The Santa Clause or Miracle On 34th Street. Gather round on the sofa with your own family to watch this DVD as you polish off the yuletide leftovers, and you might, for a horrific moment or two, imagine that you are looking in the mirror...

Reviewed on: 20 Dec 2008
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Mum And Dad packshot
Brit horror, sees an airport worker face the perils of a close-knit family. In cinemas and on DVD this Boxing Day. Plus read our with Perry Benson.
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Product Code: REVD2250

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.66:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0

Extras: Director

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