Directed by Andrés Muschietti 2013
I’ll just say this right off, I’m a big fan of Guillermo del Toro, so I came into Mama with bias. Technically this film was not directed by Guillermo, but by Andrés Muschietti, who actually co-wrote and directed a Spanish short by the same name in 2008. However, when you watch this 2013 version of this film you can feel del Toro’s influence. The stylization and the visuals are all beautiful and masterfully done just as you would expect. The story is just as whimsical and fantasy laced also as you would expect. Usually del Toro film’s ( The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth ) mostly tell the tale of horror via the eyes or inside the mind of a child, Mama does that but in this film Muschietti allows the adults to play larger roles.
In Mama, we are at first introduced to sisters Victoria and Lilly after their father murders their mother and flees with the two little girls into the mountains. The authorities do a search for the girls and their father and never find a trace of them. Five years later, their Uncle (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jamie Lancaster from Game of Thrones) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain) find the girls alive in a decrepit cabin in the woods. As Annabel tries to introduce the children to a normal life, she grows convinced of an evil presence in their house.
The adults in this story try to convince themselves the odd going ons within the house are caused by the girl’s trauma. Instead we the viewers are shown the presence’s story early in the film, because honestly the entity wastes no time letting us know she is a force to behold. And she is pissed. The ghost called “Mama” by the girls has been apparently watching over the girls inside the cabin for all these years. Once they leave the cabin, Mama travels with them. Although there are some kills in this film, and a few startles (I heard a few screams from the teenage girls in the theater), it’s basically a ghost story. An old school ghost story involving: a suicide, dead baby and a person dying in anger, which as many horror movies before has taught us makes for an angry poltergeist.
Overall, Mama is a fairly decent horror film; it’s not a horror classic in the making, but as stated visually it’s pleasing. If you are like me a true fan of the definitive ghost story, this tale will peak your interest. But, you will want to know a little more about Mama backstory. The ball was dropped and fleshing her story out fully. Jessica Chastain is such a good actress you almost believe her as a Joan Jett wannabe rock star. Coster-Waldau as Uncle Lucas and Daniel Kash as Dr. Dreyfuss (from the newly departed Alpha’s) makes for a nosey doctor and good guy uncle, although neither of these characters is really given too much to do in the movie. But, I dare you not to like the little girls in this movie, and the first little girl that played young Victoria – too cute for words.
Mama is once again a ghost tale, with beautiful visuals, see it!