[Review] MOTHER FATHER SISTER BROTHER FRANK [Calgary Underground Film Festival]: Sunday Dinner Turns Sanguinary in This Frenetic Farce 

Gory Canadian dark comedy Mother Father Sister Brother Frank (Canada, 2024) is a blood-soaked blast! Writer/director Caden Douglas puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional family” and doesn’t spare on the gore. 

All Joy Jennings wants is a perfect Sunday family dinner with her husband Jerry (Enrico Colantoni) and their adult children Jolene (Melanie Leishman) and Jim (Iain Stewart). That won’t be easy to have, as the parents have been keeping a couple of huge secrets from their kids that need to be told tonight, and each of the siblings are hiding problems of their own. And then . . .  in walks Jerry’s nogoodnik brother Frank (Juan Chioran), unannounced, uninvited, and very much unwanted, and he has some news of his own that he is more than happy to announce.

I’ll leave the plot at that, as Douglas’s film boasts a wild number of revelations throughout its running time, and much of the humor rides on each turn of the screw. His script is clever and he paces the film well, blending a number of different genres along with the dark comedy — including family drama and horror elements — balancing laughs and suspense wonderfully, and even working in some heartwarming moments.

I’ve mentioned blood and grue, so you can imagine that something unfortunate is in the offing for someone, and you would be right. I’ll give you that much more regarding the plot. The practical effects surrounding this element are highly impressive, and not for the faint of heart. 

The ensemble cast, which also includes Izad Etemadi as Jim’s husband Pete, all give top-notch, spirited performances, portraying realistic characters, many of whom are doing things that they would never expect they had in them, or were capable of.

Mother Father Sister Brother Frank is a deliciously wicked horror-adjacent dark comedy that deserves to find a wide audience. If you enjoy some chuckles with your chills, add the film to your “need to see” list.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Mother Father Sister Brother Frank screens as part of the 21st Calgary Underground Film Festival, which runs April 18–28, 2024. For more information, visit https://www.calgaryundergroundfilm.org/.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.