Parents just don't understand
I was set on watching a different movie when I happened across Parents. It's a 50's horror-comedy, shot in the 80s? There are cannibals and it's starring Randy Quaid?! Oh yeah, that other movie can wait. Horror-comedy is a bit of a misnomer for this film because there aren't actually many laughs. The movie is less “ha-ha” and more “heh...(awkward silence)”. That's what most of the movie is; a lot of creepy and awkward moments.
Parents follows the story of Michael, a child so odd, he'd make Vincent Price uncomfortable. Michael refuses to eat his dinner at home and has nightmares. Most of the horror in this movie comes from the nightmares and they do not skimp on the blood. These nightmares are not “The Boogeyman is going to get me” nightmares, but “Sausage links are trying to strangle me” nightmares.
Speaking of food, meat should have gotten it's name on the poster because there are some serious closeups of the food. There are so many shots of meat that you'd think the movie was either a Beef Industry infomercial or a “Meat Is Murder” documentary from PETA. I seriously regret eating while watching this film.
Michael is afraid of his father and I don't blame him. Randy Quaid is the real star of this movie. He is a far better actor than he is given credit for and it really shows in Parents. Quaid oozes so much creepiness that we should bottle his sweat and market it to Craigslist Casual Encounters posters. He is the quintessential overbearing father in every coming-of-age indie movie. Everything looks just swell on the outside, but beneath the surface bubbles anger and hatred. You are truly afraid to be alone in the same room with him.
Music really helps set the tone for Parents. The minimal spooky keyboard music is juxtaposed nicely with 1950's pop music. The wholesome 50's clothes and furniture hide the dark and twisted underbelly of the movie. Good camera angles and film tricks create a sense of fear and dread, but sometimes tread a bit too closely to Sophomore year at film school.
The only thing that hurts the movie is that Michael is just so. Freaking. Awkward. It gets to the point where you just want to grab him and scream “BE NORMAL FOR 2 FUCKING MINUTES!”. I guess its a compliment to the actor, but it comes very close to “cheering for the bad guy to get him” anger.
Overall, I'd say the movie is worth watching just to see some real good acting from someone who has been mired in mediocre comedies. Attention to detail such as the clothes, the furniture, and the music are much appreciated and make the horror scenes much creepier. However there are plenty of awkward scenes that make you feel overly uncomfortable and if you're a vegetarian, you should probably just stay away.