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.
|Actors:||Megan Charpentier , Nikolaj Coster-Waldau , Jessica Chastain , Isabelle Nélisse , Daniel Kash , Melina Matthews|
Plenty of horror movies are willing to settle for making audiences jump. Mama is more ambitious by far: It makes sure viewers are emotionally committed even when they aren't clutching their armrests or covering their eyes.
Instead of delivering buckets of guts and gore, this ghost story offers a strong sense of time and place, along with the kind of niceties that don't often figure into horror flicks, notably pictorial beauty, an atmosphere throbbing with dread and actors so good that you don't want anyone to take an ax to them.
Horror is all about that short-circuit the screen's technical manipulations cause in our brain, so this isn't high art. But Mama is easily the most moving, most chilling ghost story since "Insidious," an emotional tale efficiently and affectingly told.
The finale is heavy on CGI. But it never takes away from this respectable entry into the horror genre that values chills over kills.
Mama is skillfully made, and although Chastain is the best thing in it, she's not the only thing in it.
An effectively spooky ghost story with Guillermo del Toro's imprimatur (he's executive producer), Mama is every adoptive parent's nightmare: What if the children you bring home start eating moths and toilet paper, and won't come out from under the bed? And when they do, it's only to do something hurtful?
Muschietti does an excellent job of revealing just enough about Mama as we go along (and just enough of Mama herself) to show he's in control of this genre.
Movies like Mama are thrill rides. We go to be scared and then laugh, scared and then laugh, scared and then shocked. Of course, there's almost always a little plot left over for a sequel. It's a ride I'd take again.
Nothing in the movie is quite original, yet Muschietti, expanding his original short, knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve.
Like most haunted-house stories, Mama gets steadily less scary as its (for the most part, fairly predictable) secrets unfold. But even if the beats are familiar, Muschietti sustains a remarkable mood throughout: wintry, elemental and stark, like a late Sylvia Plath poem.
The plotting isn't fresh, and the politics are a tad reactionary, but the movie is also shapely, rounded, satisfying - a classical ghost story.
Mama represents a throwback and a modest delight for people who like a good scare but prefer not to be terrorized or grossed out.
Mama is one of those pictures that holds you aloft on its vaporous mood of dread – the occasional silliness of the plot mechanics don’t matter so much.
Haunting and extremely atmospheric, Mama is a horror film imbued with an unsettling and affecting power.
Narrative weakness and bad horror tropes get in the way and Mama's ending disappoints.
First-time writer-director Andy Muschietti, an Argentine discovered by Guillermo del Toro, relies too much, especially in the early going, on horror clichés (sudden loud noises and jagged blasts of music), but he does make the tension hum.
Chastain digs deep, going beyond the call of scream-queen duty to find the passion that gives horror a pulse.
It's a good, old-fashioned sit-around-the-campfire ghost story, one that delivers on its sole reason for existence: to raise the hairs on the back of your arms.
Mama itself is above average as a piece of filmmaking, even if its scare quotient is middling or below. That's OK with me. I was content to be impressed by the skill of the first-time director, Andrés Muschietti; absorbed by the performances and smitten by some startling images.
Expertly conjured atmosphere only gets Muschietti so far, but there's enough genuine promise here that you're willing to cut this talented newcomer some slack.
What more often sinks Mama is, well, Mama herself. Much like another recent homage to a spookier era of horror, 2011's "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" - which, like Mama, was executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro - Muschietti's film shows its monster too early and too often.
Beautifully envisioned, badly constructed, the only truly terrifying things in the new horror movie Mama are the fake tattoos, short black hair and black T-shirts meant to turn "Zero Dark Thirty" star Jessica Chastain into a guitar-shredding, punk rocker chick.
The film's long middle section is basically "Paranormal Activity" sans that series' handicam aesthetic, as things go bump in the night and the grown-ups take forever to get their act together.
The visual design of Mama is effective, at least in small, quick doses. But those are about all the positives for this example of why a solid audition reel doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to churn out a feature.
The frustration, though, is how much the movie leans on made-ya-jump scares and contrived plot devices when its quieter chills and already fraught setups are so potent.
The atmosphere is appropriately creepy, and there are some starts, if not outright scares...But it just gets stupid.
Mama, for all her digital and prosthetic creepiness, is finally a bit of a bore.
Trading in her red locks for kohl-lined eyes like a raccoon and the vampire look of Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, [Chastain] is the spookiest thing in Mama. Everything else is cable television.
It has been converted into a proficient, machine-tooled horror flick, stuffed full of shocks and buttressed with back-story. Mama got so flabby the second time around.
Mama is clumsily written and choppily edited, but Chastain doesn't have a bad scene in it, and you can see why she chose to be in this supernatural ghost story.
If you're going to have a ghost in your movie, it might be a good thing to present a viable alternative to that ghost. Mama, however, presents a battle between two not very good options before crumbling like a sheet on a string.
Mama never delivers the primal terror its premise would suggest.
There's something dead and rotting at the center of Mama, and it isn't the ghost of the woman who lends the horror film its title.
By the time the ridiculous child psychologist character encounters a government employee with a convenient bounty of useful information, Mama just becomes laughable, then annoying.
The premise isn't even worthy of executive producer Guillermo del Toro, who will apparently lend his name to any film as long as it fulfills its quota of moths and vulvic openings.
1. Missing Pieces ( Performer: Jack White )
2. Vampire Guitar ( Performer: Mr. Mîsael & los Atormentados )
3. The After Dinner Payback ( Performer: 'From Autumn To Ashes' )
4. Somebody That I Used To Know ( Performer: Gotye featuring Kimbra )
5. Nightmares ( Performer: Junkie XL )
6. The Encounter and Main Title ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
7. Helvetia ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
8. Mama Fight ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
9. A New Home ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
10. The Car and the Radio ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
11. Good Night ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
12. Desange Folder ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
13. Voices from the Other Room ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
14. You Guys Talk a Lot! ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
15. Victoria and Mama ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
16. Last Hypno ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
17. Wilson Pass ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
18. Observation Room ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
19. What Happens Now? ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
20. Scare and Lucas Wake Up ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
21. The Painted Wall / The Doll ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
22. Vic in the Laptop Archive ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )
23. Last Reel ( Performer: Fernando Velazquez Itunes )