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.
Five years ago, sisters Victoria and Lilly vanished from their suburban neighborhood without a trace. Since then, their Uncle Lucas (Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Chastain), have been madly searching for them. But when, incredibly, the kids are found alive in a decrepit cabin, the couple wonders if the girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home.
As Annabel tries to introduce the children to a normal life, she grows convinced of an evil presence in their house. Are the sisters experiencing traumatic stress, or is a ghost coming to visit them? How did the broken girls survive those years all alone? As she answers these disturbing questions, the new mother will find that the whispers she hears at bedtime are coming from the lips of a deadly presence.
Going into Mama I was pretty hesitant. The film is rated PG-13 and I’m not a fan of PG-13 “horror” films. I’m also not a fan of the paranormal movies they’ve been pumped out constantly. Add in that it kinda looked like an Asian styled “horror” film (think The Ring) and I really didn’t expect much. But since seeing Jessica Chastain in Jolene before everyone first noticed her, I’ve been a fan so I saw it for her. So what did I get?
A pretty decent film. I put horror in quotes because these types of films aren’t horror to me. Horror is old school slasher flicks, these are more of the paranormal/psychological/quick scare type. Horror films have lots of blood, gore, usually some nudity and an R-rating. Paranormal films are PG-13 to get kids to go see them and boring, non-scary snooze fests. But what separates Mama from the rest is the talent behind it. If I didn’t know in advanced that Chastain was in the film, I might not have recognized her. With very dark hair and tattoos, Chastain is in a rock band and doesn’t have a single shot of her trademark red hair and light skin. She’s pretty good in it and keeps the film in line where sometimes less talent can let a movie like this just wander and lose focus.
Plus Guillermo del Toro was the executive producer. The man will always make a film look good. It has some good creepiness to it and it’s pretty easy to follow and understand. It has two really good kids in it also. Both young actresses are pretty fantastic. A lot of times child actors can make these types of films seem corny, but both young girls hold your attention, can both scream and both play their roles very well. I don’t know where they found these two, but congrats to the casting agent.
I didn’t love Mama. It won’t become a classic or cult horror film, but I’d probably watch it again. It’s more watchable than the Paranormal franchise and if the fans of that series show up for this, expect it to be pretty big. I didn’t find it particularly scary, but others walked out saying it was so who knows. I think Broken City and The Last Stand will fight over the same audience and I can see Mama winning the weekend. Jessica Chastain’s name will bring in some people as will del Toro’s. If you aren’t into action films and like this type of movie, you should enjoy it.
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