Mother’s Day Evil (aka: Curio) is one odd independent film. Essentially, it’s a mashup of Psycho and Misery. A mother and her daughter come to a house in Ireland that was left to her by her uncle. An old lady drops by, does a psychic reading/séance that leads to a brief demonic possession, and before you know it, the mother is being held captive in a bedroom by a big weird dude, while her daughter is locked up in a shed!
Sure, there are plenty of problems with Mother’s Day Evil. Honestly, when I first began watching, I thought the film was dubbed into English from English. Some of the dialogue is so awkward and unnatural in delivery I find it hard to believe even an amateur actor would miss the mark that badly. But you really have to look past that. The next big issue is that, while it only runs an hour and 37 minutes, it feels like it goes on forever. It’s not like nothing is happening, it just gets somewhat repetitive and loses an edge of suspense as a result. So I would say it needed to be trimmed down to my favorite horror movie time: an hour and twenty minutes.
The movie walks a very weird line between gruesome horror and quick-witted dark comedy. Honestly, there were parts that made me laugh out loud, and I wanted more of that. In contrast, there were scenes that were particularly hard to watch, yet the movie then totally backs off. I guess it could be argued that it is inconsistent in tone and needed to choose one subgenre or the other, but personally, I give the filmmaker credit for blending the two and not trying to fit one mold or the other.
So what exactly happens in Mother’s Day Evil? The woman is treated kindly by the man, but he won’t let her see her daughter, and warns her never to go into “Mother’s room.” Oh yes. He regularly hears the demonic voice of Mother, who does the usual sex shaming and warns him away from the woman. And when she feels like he’s sinned, she makes him sit in a punishment chair to read The Bible—said punishment chair having a spiked seat. OUCH!
Meanwhile, out in the shed, the daughter discovers she’s not alone. There’s suddenly another boy in there with her (mysterious), and they become fast friends.
So, in summary, psycho guy talks with his woman-hating mom, is very kind to the woman he is holding captive, and only tortures himself, while daughter is locked in shed with what we can have to assume is a ghost. There are some creepy moments, wince-worthy self-inflicted punishment, and what seems like a totally derivative plot. However, the final act of the film really scores it some points, making the audience feel sympathy for the psycho in his loneliness. The woman, hoping to escape by humoring him, begins to feed his wish for family and makes promises we know she has no intentions of keeping. He falls for it, gets his hopes up, and goes so far as to talk back to Mother when she insists the woman needs to go.
Of course, it all leads up to the big reveal of…Mother! EEK!
And once again, it’s not totally what you expect based on our past experience with horror movie mothers, which is a treat. However, this unique twist has such an opportunity to go somewhere different, intense, and horrific, and it kind of totally cops out! WTF? On top of that, none of the various supernatural elements come together and we’re left with so many questions about what the frick was really going on. That’s my biggest disappointment with a movie I’m still glad I didn’t turn off before getting to the end, which seems to be a trend with others based on what I’ve read online.
As for the title, I much prefer Mother’s Day Evil to the original title Curio. Sure, it’s not officially a Mother’s Day film, but it is a celebration of one of the most infamously wicked women in horror history, so I absolutely added it to the Mother’s Day section on my holiday horror page.