The theatres across the country are loading up pretty heavy with a huge slate of brand new releases today for audiences to enjoy. Opening today is an old school ghost story that puts a new spin on motherly love. It's time to meet "Mama".
Co-Written & Directed by Andres Muschetti
Five years ago, sisters Victoria and Lill vanished from their suburban neighborhood without a trace. Since then, their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica 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 dead presence.
It's always a pleasant surprise when the blood and gore are replaced with an effort to create mood and suspense in a movie and Mama actually makes an effort to genuinely creep us out. For his first foray into feature filmmaking, as he expands upon his very own short film on which the film is based, Muschetti does a great job at establishing mood and tone as we are slowly but surely drawn into this world. Discovered by Guillermo del Toro, Muschetti is quite the adept storyteller as the slow burning tension that he creates is incredibly effective and it shows real skill behind the lens, making any narrative flaws easier to over look. The visual effects were strong and despite the occasional logic hiccup in the overall story. The film is more psychologically and thought provokingly scary instead filled with the standard jump scares and it manages to keep us engaged in the entire proceedings with solid performances from the cast.
Chastain remakes the standard scream queen archetype and molds into something of her own creation that actually works quite well as her character slowly evolves from a freewheeling spirit to someone who will sacrifice in order to protect their family. The more she interacts with the two girls, the deeper into the moment we get and begin to feel her dread as she slowly suspects that the two young ladies under her care who have bigger problems then could have been imagined. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays handsome and square jawed as well as the rest of them and the two young girls Isabelle Nelisse and particularly the older Megan Charpentier were effective as the children rescued from the mysteries of the woods that they were lost in. Sadly the ensemble drops off dramatically after that as some of the characters either had nothing to do or had moments that were slightly laughable. It ultimately doesn't matter as the core of the film rests with Chastain and she does it fairly proud.
"Mama" won't be a movie of for the low attention span thrill seeker, but for those who are looking for something that delivers thoughtful thrills on a slow burn, shouldn't be disappointed.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Mama" is in theatres today all across the country; check with your local listings for show times.