Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Directed by Andrés Muschietti.
2013. Rated R, 100 minutes.
Jessica Chastain
Megan Charpentier
Isabelle Nélisse
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Jane Moffat
Daniel Kash
Javier Botet
David Fox
Hannah Cheesman

Some rather unfortunate events leave two little girls alone in a cabin deep in the woods to fend for themselves. Five years pass until they are discovered by a search party working for their uncle Lucas (Coster-Waldau). It is miraculous that they've survived but, as expected, they’re severely damaged to the point of being animalistic. Victoria (Charpentier), now eight years old, and six year old Lilly (Nélisse) have subsisted on a steady diet of cherries and raised themselves. Sort of. After some intense therapy, Uncle Luke takes the girls in. Also living with him is his girlfriend Annabel (Chastain). The girls are coming along, Victoria much faster than Lilly, but are much more apt to obey Mama, a mysterious figure they often refer to that seems to live in their bedroom closet but no one else has seen. Adults trying to figure who and what Mama is while she/it makes things go bump in the night, and occasionally during the day, ensues.

Thankfully, instead of going the found footage route, Mama is an old-fashioned ghost story. It employs some new-fangled technology, to be sure, but the frights it tries to provide are from an era long since passed. It forgoes the gore in favor of an inferred presence, an ominous score and jump scares. Through these means it creates a foreboding atmosphere that it refuses to turn loose.

Our uneasiness is fostered by a sufficiently worried performance from Jessica Chastain. She provides the audience with a capable conduit as she often voices our feelings on the matters at hand and is the one character rounded just enough for us to care for. That being the case, she highlights the movie’s biggest problem. We have a pretty good idea of what each character is going to say or do, provided we've seen a scary movie or two. Annabel is someone to root for, but isn't really that intriguing. Uncle Lucas gets hurt early on and spends most of the movie in the hospital so he has nothing to do until the finale. Other characters only show up from time to time to explain the plot to us or to die because, you know, horror flicks need that sort of thing. Therefore, all we’re left with is that dread inducing music littered with abrupt noises to startle us.

Early on those old school tactics work pretty well, but they eventually lose power. The story is too paint-by-numbers to sustain the level of terror necessary to keep us truly locked in. Once the legend of Mama first starts to unfold it feels really familiar to us. In fact, it’s not terribly different from The Woman in Black. In short, once we know what’s coming we start to pick it apart. To it’s credit, Mama holds us as long as possible and is, at times, enjoyable. It’s just not quite good enough to stick.


  1. I have watched this movie few months ago, its makes me emotional.....

    1. For your sake I hope that's a good thing.

  2. Ya, really very nice movie, have you watched it?