Gun violence is at an all-time high. At the time of this writing, the latest workplace shooting (at the Molson Coors Brewery in Milwaukee) resulted in six deaths, including the gunman.
The second anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting came and went without any significant gun control legislation being passed.
At 16, Jacob (out actor Bailey Edwards) doesn’t have any guns in his arsenal, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous in lesbian filmmaker Tucia Lyman’s debut feature “M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters” (Indie Rights). Abbey (Melinda Page Hamilton), Jacob’s 42-year-old single mother has had her suspicions about her son’s mental health since he was young, the kind of boy who thought nothing of killing small animals.
Abbey’s concern has led her to obsessively monitor and keep track of Jacob, collecting bags and boxes of evidence. For years, Abbey has been recording his erratic behavior via an assortment of video options – from camcorders to nanny cams to CCTV. She stores the video footage on her home computer in a variety of folders including one labeled M.O.M. She also makes recordings of herself, messages to other mothers struggling with difficult children who may be ticking timebombs.
We witness both the aftermath of Jacob’s rages, when he “monsters out” (the destruction of seven pairs of Abbey’s shoes) and his terrifying actions caught on camera (threats to rip off Abbey’s jaw, his violent fury when she takes his violent video games away from him, his abusive interactions with friends). Are these just the tantrums of an immature teen or are they something more insidious? On the rare occasion that he exhibits his tender side, even apologizing to Abbey, the question becomes harder to answer.
Abbey isn’t exactly the picture of stability herself. She has a strained relationship with her own mother Millie (Janet Ulrich Brooks). Additionally, a horrific incident from her past, involving her dead brother, Jerry, continues to consume her. She may also have a problem with alcohol.
Nevertheless, nothing deters Abbey from her mission. She installs new high-tech video surveillance cameras throughout the house. She hires a locksmith to remove the lock from Jacob’s closet. Once inside she makes a series of startling discoveries, including Nazi paraphernalia, Jacob’s dead pet lizard in a jar of formaldehyde, violent drawings and more.
Unbeknownst to Abbey, instead of going to spend a few days with his father, Jacob stays at the house. While there, he not only discovers some of the new spy cams, but also Abbey’s computer and the video files she’s been compiling.
At this point, “M.O.M” takes a truly unsettling turn, almost to the point of being unwatchable. Jacob turns the tables on Abbey. He locks her in her bedroom where he has set up one of her cameras. He electrifies her doorknob with a car battery and jumper cables. He locks her in her bedroom closet and begins to relentlessly torment her, leading to a shocking conclusion.
If you are a fan of suspense bordering on horror, then “M.O.M”, which takes the found footage format to a new and terrifying level, is the movie for you. Available, beginning in March, on Amazon Video and iTunes.