Moving to a new town and starting at a new school can be traumatic for a ten-year-old; having a Mom and a Dad who are potentially cannibals can also be a little unnerving but that is the predicament little Michael Laemie finds himself in. Michael’s parents are of an American ilk that could walk off the cover of the Saturday Evening Post but behind their antiseptic appearance lurk very strange people with dark habits. The Mother Lily, played fantastically by Mary Beth Hunt, is a June Cleaver-type spliced with a cannibal concubine. Michael’s father Nick, an Oscar worthy performance by Randy Quaid, is a psychotic abysmal void wrapped in the flesh of a regular workin’ man. They both enjoy quite a few drinks, openly showing carnal signs of affection, and eating a lot of meat that seems to have human origins.
Michael’s mind becomes a mess. He’s starting to become sexually aware and falls for his Amazonian classmate, gets pep talks from his Dad about the darkness inside of all of our heads, and gets continually served leftovers with landmarks of human anatomy for all of his meals.
In a nutshell, is the kid’s parents killing and eating people or is it all in his head? As basic as that sounds Parents is an incredible movie that takes a banal sounding premise and creates a haunting horror movie cut razor thin with a black comedy that is not only phenomenal but inimitable. The sense of dread that slowly builds during Parents is as expertly handled as Hitchcock or Lynch and it is as tense as Polanski’s Repulsion.
Being that I am a huge fan of this movie I was really looking forward to the special features on the Vestron Blu Ray and I was not disappointed. The commentary track was done very well and had a great mix of set recollections, insight, and filmmaking jargon. The interviews with Mary Beth Hurt, Christopher Hawthorne, and Robin Vidgeon were all well done and not treated as just filler. But for me the interview with decorative consultant Yolando Cuomo was my favorite special feature on the blu ray. She had great stories about how she and her friends were able to create the Eisenhower America atmosphere and had a lot of pictures, art, and design drafts she showed and discussed. This interview was one of those features that speaks to the people who have seen the movie a hundred times and wanted something that had never seen.
Parents is a visual film as much as a psychological film and really benefits from the upgraded high definition transfer Vestron has presented. If you enjoy the movie and have never been able to track down a copy or if you have the DVD and were on the fence about upgrading to the blu-ray, let me be the one to say you just should. So grab yourself some sweetbread and haggis, pop on Parents, and get a little nuts.
WICKED RATING: 10/10
Director(s): Bob Balaban
Writer(s): Christopher Hawthorne
Stars: Randy Quaid, Mary Beth Hurt, and Sandy Dennis
Release: January 31, 2017 (Blu-ray)
Studio/ Production Co: Vestron
Budget: $3,000,000 (estimated)
Length: 81 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Black Comedy