Mama Movie Review

Expanded from a sharp 3-minute short, this horror mystery is packed with clever jolts and witty freak-out moments. Argentine filmmaker Muschietti creates such an oppressively intense atmosphere that we only barely notice how thin and underdeveloped the script is. But when we're not cringing from the eerie imagery, it's difficult not to see the contrivances and conveniences that fill the plot.

Orphans Victoria and Lilly (Charpentier and Nelisse) have survived in a woodland cabin for five years, and when they're discovered they are understandably animalistic. But their Uncle Lucas (Coster-Waldau) takes them in, fending off a custody battle with an aunt (Moffat) to raise his nieces with his rock-chick girlfriend Annabel (Chastain). Then Lucas is hospitalised after a strange nighttime incident, and Annabel is left alone in the house with these still-feral girls. Their strange behaviour makes Annabel suspect that they weren't alone in that cabin, and may have brought a jealous maternalistic ghost with them. So the consulting psychologist (Kash) starts to investigate the cabin's history.

Oddly, despite the fact that Chastain's personal odyssey is at the centre of the film, most of the narrative comes from the psychologist's procedural investigation into the identity of the woman the girls are calling "Mama". This involves implausible luck as he discovers ludicrously detailed records in dusty archives and then helpfully leaves his documents lying around so the right person can find them. Meanwhile, Coster-Waldau is needlessly marginalised in a corny plot turn early on. And it doesn't help that we never quite accept Chastain as a goth rocker, even though she gives it her best shot. 

The film is most effective in the subtle horror moments, as Muschietti deploys simple directing tricks to send chills down our spines. When he's not pre-occupied with trying to make sense of his nonsensical plot or deploying just a few too many special effects shots, his playful camera work and editing are remarkably effective, and he knows how to get the best out of his cast as well. So it's disappointing when the requisite effects-driven finale rolls around, because once the digital trickery begins, it's simply impossible to care what happens. Especially since we've never fallen for the story to begin with.

Rich Cline

Cast & Crew

Director : Andy Muschietti

Producer : J. Miles Dale, Barbara Muschietti

Starring : , , Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse, , Jane Moffat, ,

Comments

Mama Rating

" OK "

Rating: 15, 2013

Advertisement

More Jessica Chastain

First Look At New Movie 'The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby' [Trailer]

The upcoming romantic drama The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is the pinnacle of a number of years’ work by debut director Ned Benson.It’s an amalgamation...

The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby Trailer

Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) play a couple who fall in love and get married, before hitting various hiccups in their relationship. However,...

Interstellar Trailer

Cooper is a pilot and engineer with a huge ambition to save the world. With little discoveries left to be made on Earth and the...

What Do We Know About Christopher Nolan's Interstellar?

Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey made a surprise visit to the San Diego Comic-Con last week to unveil the full trailer for their new movie,...

Advertisement

True Detective Snags Outstanding New Drama Nomination As Season 2 Details Are Revealed

The 2014 TCA awards nominations were announced yesterday (Tuesday, May 27) with True Detective picking up nods for Outstanding new program, outstanding achievement in movies,...

'True Detective' Season 2: Nic Pizzolatto Reveals New "Psychosphere"

Nic Pizzolatto has spilled the beans on the long-awaited upcoming second season of the hit HBO crime drama, True Detective. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson...

Jessica Chastain Will Not Be Appearing In 'True Detective' Season 2

Despite numerous reports that have surfaced as of late, Jessica Chastain will not be appearing in the second season of HBO's hit crime series 'True...

Will Jessica Chastain Be One Of The "Hard Women" in True Detective Season 2?

‘True Detective’ saw Matthew McConaughey stun as Rust Cohle – a troubled Louisiana detective struggling with the existential, philosophical nuances of life in a world...

Advertisement