Writer-director Rafael De Leon Jr.’s Momma, Don’t Go constantly keeps the viewer on edge, despite some less convincing storytelling elements.
The film opens with a black screen and piercing screams. This combination raises the following questions for the viewer: Who is screaming? Is someone being tortured? Did someone die?
The ominous opening creates a sense of dread as the film transitions to the narrative proper.
The first shot shows a covered body in the bathtub. A bloodied arm hangs limp over the side. Next we see a man (Anthony Franqui) staring glumly at the body. This pairing of these images keeps us guessing: Did someone commit suicide? If so, the screams coming from offscreen may be those of anguish. But when the man pulls a knit stocking over his face with eyes and mouth holes cut out, we understand that this is something equally as sinister: a deadly home invasion.
The tension Rafael De Leon Jr. creates in this short time, however, soon loses traction. When the man joins his female accomplice (Melissa Sutkowski) in the other room, the two of them do not come off as threatening. For example, one shot slows a close-up of a bloodied knife that sways like a pendulum in a gloved hand. While the act may appear taunting, as if suggesting that—tick-tock tick-tock—time is running out for the film’s protagonist Vicky and her wounded mother (Julia Tolchin and Leanne Michelle Watson), it soon becomes almost comical. The home invaders’ bickering also doesn’t present them as particularly threatening, more so bumbling thieves who happened to choose the wrong house and family to mess with.
And, boy, do they get their just desserts.
A plea from the daughter to retrieve her mother’s medicine turns into an intelligent twist. The resultant gore scene will satisfy fans of gruesome practical effects and body horror. Despite a strong ending, tighter editing and more convincing antagonists could have made Momma, Don’t Go a taut exercise in suspense.
7 out of 10 stars
- “Momma, Don’t Go constantly keeps the viewer on edge, despite some less convincing storytelling elements.”
- “The home invaders’ bickering also doesn’t present them as particularly threatening, more so bumbling thieves.”
- “The resultant gore scene will satisfy fans of gruesome practical effects and body horror.”
|Momma, Don’t Go
||No Trailer Available