Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier
Release Date: February 22nd 2013
I was looking forward to seeing this film, it had a good premise, kinda like, what would happen if the Blair Witch decided to raise kids, lost them and then wants them back, sadly when I saw that is was going to be a Del Toro-produced movie, I knew that it would look great, make loads of money, but not be scary in the slightest, sure there are a few jumps scares, but that didn’t really make up for such a missed opportunity, to make a half decent scary movie.
So it is 2008 and Jeffery, driven by the financial crisis kills his business partner and wife, before returning home to murder his own wife and abducts his two young children, never to be heard from again, never giving up hope, his brother Lucas, spends all his money attempting to track down his missing family, Five years later, a rescue party, paid for by Lucas, Jeffery’s brother, find the two young girls living in a rundown shack, living in a feral state and claiming to of been raised by someone they refer to as ‘Mama’, one rescued, they are given to Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain) to look after, but the girls claim that ‘Mama’ is coming to get them back, this is a good premiss, the idea that something supernatural saved the two girls and raised them, what would they be like?, what would the spirit do to get them back?, the only problem is that although the film looks great and the plot develops at a good pace, the film never really hits home, there isn’t any suspense, plus you will get sick of hearing the word ‘Mama’ by the end of the film.
This isn’t a bad movie, the film starts off great, the children are strange and creepy, but the film starts to fizzle and it ends up stuck between two different types of horror film, popcorn horror and something that promotes deep thought, this means that it manages to achieve neither successfully, there isn’t enough jump scares or deaths to make it a popcorn flick, which are traditionally bad films, but enjoyable, which Mama never felt, it also didn’t have enough thought provoking moments or bring anything particularly new to the horror genre, so it doesn’t join the group of horror films that become genre defining, like The Blair Witch Project, was to the found footage horror or The Evil Dead, was to splatter films, Mama falls in that grey area and although a perfectly watchable movie, it felt more like a thriller with a ghost tagged on the end, more of a study into integrating into new cultures, or how Jessica Chastain’s character Annabel grows as a person, going from a someone who is quite frankly unlikeable, to someone that embracing motherhood and is willing to risk her life for the children, this is possibly the best thing about the film, with genuine character growth and development, which leads me to the much talked about ending, if you don’t want to hear about it, just stop reading now, knowing that I felt that Mama, was a missed opportunity to make a good horror film to start the year, thought Mama, but still better film than Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.
The Ending of Mama, has been much talked about, in which Victoria decides to stay with Annabel, rather than plunge to her death with Mama, however the reason that the ending is so talked about, is because the younger of the two girls, Lilly decided that her bond to Mama is too great and to go with her, echoing Mamas original death, the thinking behind this is that unlike Victoria, who when abandoned in the woods, was more developed and could talk, where as Lilly was too young and doesn’t feel as big of a connection to Annabel, because to her, Mama is her mother, this was a surprise, as up until that point, the film had been pretty predictable, it’s an interesting concept, exploring the bonds of family, the film would have been fine with both children being saved, when Mama is given the remains of her dead baby, but this isn’t the case, instead we got an ending that felt like it was done to give the film an edginess, but really rather than leaving the audience scared, your left confused and a little let down and just how much the movie fizzles out.