MAMA. 2013. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER- GUILLERMO DEL TORO. DIRECTED BY ANDY MUSCHETTI. PRODUCED BY J. MILES DALE AND BARBARA MUSCHETTI. STORY BY ANDY MUSCHETTI AND BARBARA MUSCHETTI. SCREENPLAY BY NEIL CROSS, ANDY MUSCHETTI AND BARBARA MUSCHETTI. STARRING JESSICA CHASTAIN AND NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I’m kind of in two minds about this modern supernatural horror/fantasy film. On the one hand, my gut instinct is telling me that it’s a gimmicky sort of effort with lazy CGI special effects and more style in it than substance. On the other hand, I’m now afraid of my life to open any of the cupboards (or closets, as the Americans call them) in my house, so I can’t have been entirely unaffected by it. While I’m making up my mind- I’m notoriously indecisive- please help yourself to these complimentary semi-spoilers, haha…
Victoria and Lilly Desange are only three and one years old respectively when their dad goes a bit loco during a financial crisis and shoots their mom and a bunch of other people. His business partners, to be precise. He then takes the two kiddies to an abandoned cabin in the woods- handy how it was just sitting there- with the intention of shooting them too and, presumably, himself as well.
He is prevented from killing the nippers, however, by an unnaturally elongated, creepy entity who lives there and decides that it/she(?) is going to take care of the girls from now on. Dad is duly killed by the thing, and five years later the kids are found still living in the cabin, as wild and untamed as all-get-out but unharmed and relatively healthy. Who exactly has been looking after them…? So far so weird, right? You haven’t heard the half of it yet, people…
The girls go to live with their nice uncle Luke (who was responsible for finding them) and his girlfriend, a rock chick called Annabel who, it’s made clear from the start, is not even remotely maternal. They all move to a big haunted house (well, that’s what it looks like, anyway. They must be mad to even consider living in it!) owned by a psychiatric institute, so that the girls’ psychiatrist can continue to keep tabs on them.
The shrink, Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss, is fascinated by the girls’ revelations that, while they were living in the cabin in the woods, they were cared for by someone called ‘Mama’ with a tragic history who came from some kind of institution for ‘sad people.’ I think we can work out for ourselves what kind of place that was, can’t we…?
Mr. Psychiatrist does some digging- almost, but not quite, literally- and discovers ‘Mama’s’ grim and utterly grisly back-story. In the meantime, ‘Mama’ seems to have moved in with the new little instant family of four, and she is not happy to have anyone other than herself looking after her girls. Something’s gotta give, and it’s obvious by the build-up of suspense that when it happens, it’s gonna be bad. Will ‘Mama’ get what she’s been looking for for over a century? Only time will tell…
The settings, ie, the house and the cabin in the woods, are undoubtedly as creepy as hell and there are jump-scares and tense moments galore, but ultimately I was disappointed with ‘Mama’ herself. The special effects were just weird, man. They were all over the place. I didn’t dig them.
Mind you, as I said earlier, the movie still scared me but, on mature reflection, that may have had more to do with the aforementioned jump-scares and build-up of suspense and tension than the physical appearance of ‘Mama’ herself. Also, I just didn’t ‘get’ the butterflies. There, I’ve said it…
If you’re looking for a quick horror fix that you won’t necessarily remember in a years’ time, then this one might just do the trick. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that ‘Mama’ won’t stand the test of time. I’m kind of forgetting it already, to tell you the truth. Having said that, though, I’m not quite ready to go around opening up all my closets/cupboards yet. Make of that what you will…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY