We live in disturbing and turbulent times where mass shootings have become a regular part of American life. A flood of questions follow the shootings. Where did they get the gun? Was it a terrorist attack? Where were the parents? Did they show any signs? Tucia Lyman’s 2020 film M.O.M. (Mother of Monsters) is about a parent who actively tries to seek help for her psychologically disturbed child.
Written and directed by Tucia Lyman, this film unfolds through various web and hidden cameras as Abby, a frightened mother, spies on her sixteen year old son. To the outside world, Jacob exhibits delinquent behavior but manages to charm his teachers and classmates. At home, he throws tantrums and exhibits violent behavior when things do not go his way.
Lyman’s film takes a look into systematic flaws and what happens when the “see something say something rule” fails those who report. The film explores the link between racism and psychopathic behavior, and society’s reluctance to believe women. The use of web cameras and a lack of soundtrack provide an intense impression of realism. The only time music is used is when Jacob is playing the piano and blasting it in his room. The fact that music is only heard when Jacob plays it makes the scenes sinister and suspenseful.
Melinda Page Hamilton gives a stellar performance as Abby, a frustrated mother who desperately needs someone to believe her. Most of her performance consists of monologues and the frustration of her character is radiating. Bailey Edwards is fantastic. The viewer will want to punch him in the face and that is complimentary. Edwards ability to switch from soulless monster to vulnerable child is haunting.
While the film may be a little too drawn out, Lyman’s M.O.M. will encourage discussions on mental health and parenting, but it raises a bigger question. Are people born monsters or are they created? Thought-provoking and ultimately disturbing, M.O.M is the story of a mother’s love for her child and how far she will go to try and help him.
M.O.M. opens this Friday March 13th at the Arena Cinelounge in Los Angeles and will play for a week before being available on cable and VOD.