Directed by: Andrés Muschietti
After a devastating stock market crash, where millions of dollars are lost, a broker Jeffrey (Coster-Waldau), snaps, shoots his wife and partner, then rushes home to scoop up his two daughters Victoria (Charpentier) and Lilly (Nélisse) — ages three and one — and, panicked-stricken heads out on the road. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, it is snowing heavily and — while far from anywhere — he winds up in a skid that puts his car off the road into a heavily wooded area. Then, still with the girls in tow, they stumble far into the woods until they happen across an apparently cabin. It is there that Jeffry’s madness comes to a head and he determines to end his life and take his daughters first. Only before he can do that, he is stopped by an ephemeral sprit that inhabits the house. This is Mama.
Mama is a supernatural thriller relating the haunting tale of these two little girls who — after being brought to this dark place by their crazed father, are then “raised” by, well, a ghost. They spend five years in the company of this spirit (who is not so much evil as we come to learn, but the afterlife of a 19th Century woman who was apparently clinically insane, gave birth, had her child taken from her and then leapt to her death, but lost the baby during the fall. Now she has found a pair of pure-hearted children to raise as her own; only the girl’s Uncle Lucas (also played by Coster-Waldau) who has been looking for them for the past five years, wants to raise them.
When they are finally rescued years later Lucas, with the help of a physiologist named Dr. Dreyfuss (Kash), tries to rehabilitate them and re-acclimate them into society, only he and his wife Annabel (Chastain ) soon discover find that someone or (more specifically) something still wants to come tuck them in at night. What follows is a very creepy and disturbingly well-made ghost story executive produced by Guillermo del Toro that manages to frighten you without much of the gore and “gotcha” moments that most horror films feel that they need to rely upon to create truly terrifying moments. No, this film has an actual back story to it that hangs together, and fully supports what follows — something that is sorely lacking in much of what we see that attempts to pass itself of a “horror”.
This is a genuinely spooky film that will have you still wondering about the presence of spirits after you leave the theater.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.