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Parents 1989 ***

Bob Balaban has become something of a cult figure, appearing in a number of notable films from Moonrise Kingdom to Close Encounters of the Third Kind; his diary account of CE3K’s making is more revealing than most studio puff pieces, with interesting allusions to on-set difficulties. His directorial debut, Parents, was a low-budget horror film that is light on gore, but offers plenty of dark pleasures; it’s the story of a young boy growing up in 1950’s America who notices something odd about his parents. Played by Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt, Nick and Lily are loving and nurturing, even if they do seem to have a penchant for large slabs of meat. Cannibalism is the answer, and Parents rises to a few effective shock moments while offering up a blunt analysis of the American dream. Something original in the horror canon, Parents isn’t quite as literate as might be expected from Balaban, but it’s ideal fare for horror fans who want to dine off-menu.


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