Parents is a black comedy/horror film that was directed by Bob Balaban and written by Christopher Hawthorne. Releasing in 1989, it follows 10 year old Michael. He’s just moved with his parents Nick and Lily from Massachusetts to a new neighbourhood in 1958 suburbia. Michael is socially awkward and has strange dreams due to his overly active imagination. He begins to suspect that his parents may be cannibalistic killers.
The film presents certain scenarios that seems suspicious but on the other hand could be entirely innocent. As the viewer, we see these moments through the eyes of Michael. However, he isn’t exactly trustworthy. His parents regularly cook Michael large amounts of meat for every single meal. They downright insist that he consumes as much of it as possible. His father has a job that gives him access to cadavers and Michael witnesses him cutting into one. Also, he sees a limb hanging in the basement or does he? Eventually, he connects with the school counsellor and all is inevitably revealed.
Parents is an oddball of a movie. It opens with an intentionally upbeat piece of music that purposely grinds on you. You can tell it’s meant to appear warm and fuzzy but you definitely get a sense of a sinister undertone. The scenario had me intrigued, I wasn’t sure what to believe. However, it ends up being surprisingly straightforward. I found it fairly reminiscent of the Tom Hanks film, The Burbs. Although, something that film got right was that it managed to make you laugh. One of the biggest issues with Parents is that it isn’t very funny. It’s supposed to be a black comedy but the laughs never truly come. There is certainly potential but it’s sadly squandered.
The 50s style is nicely done and the actors all play their parts perfectly. Again, more disturbing than laugh out loud. If any film is going to turn you into a vegetarian than it might be this one. There is some decent cinematography on show but the gratuitous shots of meat can get to be a bit much.
Ultimately, the parents are proven to be quite idiotic. They do everything in such a brazen way and are shocked when their son catches them. It seems they’ve made little to no effort to indoctrinate him. It’s as if they want him to be a normal boy that happens to eat human flesh. They could have made an effort to include him or something, it’s just unreasonable really.
Parents biggest issue is that it’s lacking an identity. It has ideas but fails to execute most of them effectively. In that way, it’s something of a missed opportunity.
The Final Score - 5/10
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