“Mama” is a Spanish-Canadian horror movie released on January 18th, 2012. It tells the story of two girls, Victoria (Megan Charpentier of “Red Riding Hood”) and Lily (Isabelle Nélisse) who were orphaned when their father, who in a manic fit killed their mother and two co-workers, mysteriously vanishes from a cabin in the woods where he left them.
The bulk of the movie takes place five years after the abandonment when the two girls are found and sent to live with their father’s brother, Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of “Headhunters” and “Black Hawk Down) and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain of “Zero Dark Thirty”). However, soon after the girls’ arrival, mysterious events begin to take place.
Although the film is strongly associated with Guillermo del Toro, he only produced the movie, as it was written by Neil Cross, Barbara Muschietti, and Andres Muschietti.
Andres Muschietti also directed the film. However, one looking for del Toro’s signature style will not be disappointed. The opening credits of the movie embody del Toro’s signature elongated introduction, complete with illustrations as seen in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” as well as a dramatic soundtrack to accompany.
The movie also shows del Toro’s fondness for spatial involvement in camera angles and shots, which helps to tie in the reality of the set with the fantasy of the plotline. The film, while not being a high budget film, grossed over $28 million on opening weekend.
I personally enjoyed this movie because, unlike many horror movies, the suspense was NOT in the ‘monster’ itself, but rather in the plot and the twists. All too many horror movies leave the entirety of the suspense to disguising the monster throughout the movie just to reveal its face at the very end as though the image itself contained all of the horror in the movie.
Also, I felt this movie was able to keep my attention very well, and did not feel the need to use excessive amounts of blood and gore.
The plot was well conceived, and again, unlike many movies, did not wait to pack all of the action in until the last ten minutes.
Although much of the movie relied on attention to detail, the plot was simple enough to follow, yet complex enough to not feel overdone.
The two girls, Megan and Isabelle were incredibly convincing, and almost hockingly flawless, playing two rather savage girls.
The inclusion of child actors is sometimes a hit or miss, depending on the child, but I was astounded with how well these young girls were able to act.
I also thought that Jessica Chastain’s character was brilliant. She began the movie as an overgrown punk with a bad attitude on life, yet throughout the movie the audience has a chance to witness her metamorphosis.
I also thought that it was interesting that the Nikolaj Coster-Waldau played both of the brothers, while managing to convey two completely separate personalities.
I would give this movie a four out of five for its integrity, depth, and unpredictability.
“Mama” is an hour and forty minutes long, and is playing at Regal Cinema through this Thursday, February 7. The times for Monday through Thursday are: 2:10, 4:50, and 7:15, with an added time of 9:45 on Thursday.