Mama

A Mother's Love is Forever

Horror
100 min     6.233     2013     Canada

Overview

Guillermo del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their parents were killed. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something still wants to come tuck them in at night.

Reviews

John Chard wrote:
The Mothmom Possibly. Mama is directed by Andres Muschietti and written by Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti and Neil Cross. It stars Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet and Jane Moffat. Music is by Fernando Velazquez and cinematography by Antonio Riestra. A Suicidal father abducts his two young daughters and takes them to a cabin out in the woods, his intention is to kill them. Before he can enact his plan he is killed by a strange entity, leaving the two girls alone in the cabin. Years later the girls are discovered in the cabin, completely feral and when any sense can finally be made out of them, they talk of being looked after by someone they call Mama; And it seems Mama has come back with them to civilisation… Based on his own 2008 Argentinian short of the same name, Andres Muschietti expands the idea out to a full length feature film. With pretty decent results as well. Pic is a supernatural fairytale, thick on ethereal atmosphere and not over reliant on boo jumps or an adherence to blood and guts spilling just to put bums on seats. From the moment the girls are found, scampering around the wood cabin on all fours, clearly having survived on cherries for five years, there’s an uneasy feel to the story. We already know there is a spirit involved as we half glimpsed “Mama” during the pre-credits sequence, what we need now is a good story and a healthy quota of frights and peril for Waldau and Chastain as they become surrogate parents to the troubled youngsters; And again, Mama mostly delivers all that is required of it for a good night in by the fire whilst perched on the edge of your seat. Chastain is excellent as the punk rock chick reluctantly mothering two children before her time, the two girls, Charpentier and Nelisse, are also top draw, exuding the sadness and confusion that children of that age would obviously be feeling under these circumstances. While their reactions to what we ourselves can’t see, via glances or hushed exchanges, has a creepiness to it that delivers a bucket load of dread. Muschietti’s direction is very stylish, not only does he marshal his principal cast members with great skill, he shows some ingenuity in scene staging with one sequence particularly brilliant as Chastain does housework and the younger of the girls plays with Mama in the bedroom, we know it, even though we can only see the wee bairn. The soundtrack and score is suitably screechy, and the cinematography by Riestra has Gothic tints to it. Why Mama is not a bona fide entry in the upper echelons of horror is mainly due to an annoying mistake that so many horror genre film makers make, namely showing too much of the spook. There is a point around the hour mark where “Mama” herself just stops being scary, a shame because the effects work isn’t half bad. There’s other, less itchy problems, such as Waldau being reduced to a bit player from the mid-point, a sub-plot involving Kash’s Dr. Dreyfuss just feels like set-up material, while the ending is sure to be a bit too WTF for some. That said, this is good genre cinema for those who like The Woman in Black type of thrills and story telling. 7.5/10
Gimly wrote:
Some wicked creature design and good child actors make up for Mama's "unfinished" feeling. Jessica Chastain delivers as usual. Final rating:★★★ - I personally recommend you give it a go.
Filipe Manuel Dias Neto wrote:
**Inconstant, it starts well, but it gets worse and becomes tiring and boring. The ending is bad.** Guillermo del Toro has already used us to visually striking and intense films, so I was little surprised to find his name attached to this film. I even thought that he would be the director, but the direction was in charge of Andy Muschietti, and Del Toro is just an executive producer, in a gesture that seems just a publicity stunt. In any case, the film is not bad, and it even manages to create some tension and suspense… but it is still far from being a truly good horror film, mainly because of its inconstancy. When I say inconstancy, what I mean is that the film changes radically in the middle, for the worse: the script starts with a good initial premise, which is the death of the parents of the two children, who end up alone in a cabin in the woods. Five years later, however, they are found again in a mental and psychological state that borders on the wild. However, and in the midst of the legal battle for their custody, it becomes evident to those who care for them that the two children have conversations with an invisible entity, which they call Mama. Intense and disturbing, the film creates an impactful situation, with characters that we can like and that hold us to the film. The supernatural situation is intriguing, and the creature created for the film is intimidating and truly terrifying. At various times, I noticed similarities with cinematographic works like _The Exorcist_ and _The Orphanage_. So far, all great. The problem is that, roughly halfway through, the film loses its momentum, so to speak. It's as if the director had changed, or the film's idea had been different, or they were different films. Everything becomes gradually more predictable, boring, uninteresting and tiring, and the scares and suspense gradually decrease. The creature, which before only appeared furtively and for a moment, is now fully visible, and that takes a lot of impact. The level of melodrama and sugar in the story also increases substantially. The end of the film is as unsatisfying as a sexual act interrupted midway because someone showed up at the wrong time. And I'd rather not talk about the various glitches of logic that start to appear, big as mansions, when we start to seriously think about all this! The cast does what it can, and there are some efforts here that deserve to be highlighted. At the head we have two excellent child actresses, Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse, who do everything impeccably and authentically surrender to their characters. More than any adult, they are the ones who deserve to be highlighted in this film, for the way they lived it all and contributed to the final product. Right after that, we have Jessica Chastain, who gives us yet another good, albeit imperfect, performance. I got the serious feeling that the actress wore a wig. If that wasn't the case, at least it looked like it. And she never seemed to fit that character well either. Javier Botet also deserves praise for the commitment and patience with which he put up with hours of make-up. The rest of the cast isn't so happy: Daniel Kash should have had more relevance in the plot, but we get the feeling that the character is dropped as quickly as possible, and Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau wasn't used happily either, despite the talent and abilities of the actor. Technically, the film has several points of merit that are worth watching carefully. This is the case with cinematography. The entire film was shot excellently, with careful and meticulous work from the cameras. The sharpness, the shadows, the lighting work and the dark and sometimes washed-out colors accentuate, in certain scenes, the atmosphere of tension and abandonment that can be felt by the audience. The visual effects work quite well, especially everything about the creature, which only loses interest when we can see it well. A good choice of sets and costumes also helped, and the CGI is elegant and satisfying until you reach the middle of the film, where it clearly loses quality and impact.

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