Review: 'Mama' Is A Bigger Creep-Factor Than Fear-Factor
January 18th, 2013 11:07am EST
Higher on levels of creepiness than frightfulness, the bull’s Mama leaves a juggling impression!
Breaking the ice with his first feature, director Andy Muschietti spawned his latest chiller off his short of the same title, causing an interest within one of our time’s brilliant minds in the world of horror. Taking Andy under his artistic wing, Guillermo del Toro helped carve out and produce a deep, dark story of two little girls and an odd bond to a freaky, supernatural caretaker they refer to as “mama.”
Five years ago, sisters Victoria and Lilly vanished from their suburban neighborhood without a trace. Since that time, their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his rocker girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), have been obsessively searching for them. But when, surprisingly, the girls are found alive in an abandoned cabin, the couple wonders if the girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home when strange occurrences begin to stand out.
Wonder starts once Annabel tries introducing the girls to a normal life. She grows convinced of an evil presence in their house, questioning the possibility of the sisters experiencing traumatic stress, or organic thoughts of a ghost in-fact coming to visit them, serving as a better result. Following the mind-boggling happenings, thoughts follow of how the broken girls survived those years all alone. As she answers these disturbing questions, the new mother will find that the eerie whispers she hears at bedtime are coming from the lips of a deadly presence.
Similar to last year’s The Woman in Black, Mama is a frightful-based film that simultaneously follows and exposes limitless desire and unconditional love provided by a mother – even in times when their souls have crossed to an afterlife. Wanting to make wrongs right, the difference between both films is unlike last year’s mommy-scare-flick (starring Daniel Radcliffe), Mama lacks in some script-based details when it comes to having an arc involving mommy ghost, the girls, and the new caretakers. However, some slack can be cut considering it being a first feature for Andy Muschietti, who co-wrote the screenplay along with his sister, Barbara.
Although much of the films scares are predictable and/or clichéd, there are a few which still make you jump even though one knows they’re coming. It’s a brain-boggling trigger when a scene entailing a sped up image rushing towards the screen provides a freezing sense of vulnerability while sitting and gripping your seat’s handle.
Most of where I feel Mama holds strong comes from its soaring creepiness. Form opening scene to its end, there’s a sense of purpose in terms of forcing the crowd to feel for the little girls. While strolling through cold, harsh forestry with their father, all through the very end giving us an emotional display of divide, I felt it was the little girls who served as the story’s main players, instead of their secondary caretakers, or their CGI-based mommy.
Never really feeling that high for what I would personally consider a heart-pounding scary movie, the feeling of “hating” on it didn’t resonate. I had fun with it, as I’m sure many others will, but the challenge and downer comes from not really living up to what the premise makes it out to be. Of course much can be laid on the fact that as moviegoers we’ve seen this kind of genre and/or story before, along with the fact it didn’t really touch one’s psyche, chiller flicks like this will hold their weight based on name dropping. (A film with an Executive Producer like Guillermo de Toro, and starring Golden Globe winner Jessica Chastain for example can move a piece.)
The intense 2 minute short IS quite a charm to watch. It’s a layer of wonder, leaving the viewer in awe. However, will the feature live up to the same type of reaction remains to be seen once it hits theaters? In all, it’s not a bad movie, but it could have been a bit more horridly constructive in some ways.
Grade: C+ / Genre: Supernatural Thriller / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 1 Hr. 30 Min.
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse
Director: Andy Muschietti
Watch the short that inspired the film...
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Photo Credits: Universal Pictures