Guillermo Del Toro is responsible for Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage, two beautifully made films, both of which utilise conventions of horror. His well told plot lines and great cinematography have made Del Toro's films a treat to watch over and over again. What has gone wrong then, with his latest scary flick, which has been completely panned by critics?
It's certainly not the cast, as it stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain. According to TIME Magazine, the script really let it down. "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." They said. Village Voice just thinks that for a horror it isn't scary enough, saying that it "never delivers the primal terror its premise would suggest." Rolling Stone, in contrast says "the film knows how to creep you out," despite it looking like a 'cheapie fright flick'.
However, in the film's favour, perhaps these critics are merely well seasoned in horror, because the Chicago Sun Times said: "Mama succeeds in scaring the wits out of us and leaving some lingering, deeply creepy images ..."
Aside from Time's comments about the editing and writing, everyone else merely felt let down by the scares not being quite scary enough. In that respect it's probably best to give it the benefit of the doubt and head along to see it. While it may not be scream-out-loud terrifying like The Orphanage was in places, it's bound to be great to just look at. It's set for release January 18th.
Here's another one of Del Toro's movies for 2013, Pacific Rim: