Mama (2013)

Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Mama (2013)

Mama has gotten more press than your average horror film, thanks more to its cast than anything else. The film, directed by Argentinean Andrés Muschietti and “presented by” Guillermo del Toro, concerns two young girls found in the woods five years after their disappearance and their foster parents, Kingslayer (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bin-Laden-slayer (Jessica Chastain).

The plot is bare bones, but has just enough meat to it to keep the horror stuff interesting. The atmosphere is suitably creepy (aided by a spare, desaturated palette… not so much the overbearing, unsubtle soundtrack). Chastain is great, even if she’s never going to receive an Oscar nomination for this sort of work.

Mama trades on J-horror mainstays of creepy kids and gothic ghosts and has some clever set-ups for scares: my personal favourite was its innovative use of a camera flash to heighten suspense. Unfortunately these effective scares are diluted by too many predictable and underwhelming jump scares.

I’d recommend the film to anyone who enjoys a good ghost story. It’s far from perfect – the storyline came so close to avoiding the requisite third act stumble, but seemingly forgets that Coster-Waldau’s character exists – but is nonetheless a good execution of a classic formula.

Rating: 126/200

4 thoughts on “Mama (2013)

    • Hopefully this is a compliment rather than an accusation of plagiarism! 😉 I kid, I kid.

      I went and checked out your review – I didn’t have as much of a problem with the finale as you did – it certainly wasn’t fantastic, but my biggest issue was simply that it seemed like the story forgot what to do with Luke’s character – I was thinking perhaps they were leading up to some sort of twist to tie in to his brother (not that I think this would have been very good) but, nope, he has some creepy dream, wanders into the forest where nothing seems to happen (seriously, he doesn’t even find out what happens to the psychiatrist) and then completely inexplicably runs into his girlfriend?

      I felt like they had a couple different versions of the screenplay where he carks it near the end, but changed the screenplay to suit audience preferences.

      • You’ll be hearing from my lawyers first thing in the morning!! 🙂

        Yeah, the part you mentioned I agree with, and the way he went to the forest and ran into his g/f and nieces was part of the lame ending I didn’t like. I hated the entire third act. I was hoping for another spectacular ending like “The Ring” had. That was one of my most fun theater experiences watching that at midnight in a big theater and a nice-sized black crowd that went crazy at the end. lol. Some of us were standing up like we were at a sporting event! lol.

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