Critics are fairly evenly divided over producer Guillermo del Toro's PG-13 horror flick Mama, starring Jessica Chastain. But even many of those who find much to like about it, find much to criticize as well. Kyle Smith in the New York Post remarks that he had an excellent time ... for most of the movie but that director Andy Muschietti relies too much ... on horror clichÃ©s (sudden loud noises and jagged blasts of music) and that lots of scenes put special effects above story. Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle agrees that the film is skillfully made but asks, How was this movie rated PG-13? Ten minutes into the film a father puts a gun to the head of his little daughter. Think that might be a disturbing sight for children? Rafer GuzmÃ¡n in Newsday gives the film 2 1/2 stars but comments that it is more effective than you might expect. Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times describes the film as beautifully envisioned, badly constructed. Or as Rex Reed puts it in the New York Observer: as good an example as you're going to get of style over substance. Michael O'Sullivan in the Washington Post uses his review of the film to tear into the current state of the horror genre. The contemporary horror film is like porn: effective, but soul-deadening, he writes, And so it is with Mama. Sure, it's scary enough, but cheaply, not deeply.
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