It's no surprise that Mother's Day's director Darren Lynn Bousman and his peer James Wan helped kick start the Saw franchise, as their styles and sensibilities are so alike. Wan, who went on to direct Dead Silence, Death Sentence and Insidious could easily have directed this, with its flawed lead characters, merciless but human villains, and searing tension.
Starting with a home invasion that occurs due to believably simple human error, things can only escalate when the criminals who have taken a house full of people hostage discover they're all over the news for a botched robbery. Add a potentially fatal wounding and the arrival of the criminals' family matriarch Rebecca De Mornay (most famous for The Hand That Rocks The Cradle) and matters start to reach full speed.
The script is daftly fun, but also inventive, setting things during a threatening tornado storm that means everyone's bunkered down in basements and less likely to hear their neighbours' cries for help. And De Mornay is superb, playing her hard edged character with a poise and dignity, instead of the deranged eye-rolling I was expecting.
The hostages are fleshed out just enough for you to care about them, and the criminals are a distinctive and complex bunch.
There's also enough of a helping of toe-curling torture and gore to make horror fans and thriller fans alike cringe, as well as a healthy spadeful of well-planned tension sequences.
Shawn Ashmore (Iceman in the X-Men movies) gets to have the most fun as one of the hostages that they need the most but De Mornay is the one who sticks in the memory, appropriately.
Highly recommended for fans of harsh, violent thrillers.