Mama Review

So a man murders his wife, grabs his young daughters and drives them to a cabin in the woods with the intention of killing his little girls too.

Just before he pulls the trigger, something leaps on him from the shadows, snaps him in half and drags him out of sight.

Five years later the feral children are found, rehabilitated, kind of, and move in with their Uncle Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel, played by Headhunters Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and the prolific Jessica Chastain.

But the thing that kept the girls alive in the woods moves in with them. They call it Mama, and it doesn’t care much for these new adults muscling in on its adopted offspring.

Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, Mama is based on a very short short-story that caught the cult auteur’s eye where two little girls are chased from their room and along a corridor by this Mama creature.

First thing’s first, Mama looks great; even the poster makes it obvious that this film is both well-made and has a talented team behind it.

Andy Muschietti, the man behind the camera, marks his first full-length feature a great sense of timing. There are some lovely spine tingling moments involving things moving in the background, as well as clever use of split room visuals where the camera set-up allows us to see into two different spaces at once.

At one point, Mama shows us what we assume to be both girls engaged in a tug of war in their bedroom, all laughter and sunbeams and pastel shades. Then one of the girls strolls by in the adjoining room, while the other is engaged in said energetic tug.


Mama is pretty typical for contemporary horror fare in how it goes about scaring you: loud noises, sudden movements in unexpected places at angles no human can move at.

But for me, the real eeriness of Mama creaks in its terrifying sound design, full of warped wails, screams and bubbling, cracking weirdness.

Definitely not the kind of sounds you want to hear at three in the morning.

The character design is good in glimpses, even if we have to live with a big reveal for the last twenty minutes of the film, and the physicality brought by seven foot tall movement artist Javier Botet in his contribution to the titular role is quite something to behold.

In the flashes when you can see him of course.

As you might expect from a horror flick based on a short story, Mama’s plot does leave a little to be desired; so when an 18th century mental asylum full of nuns is mentioned, there was outright laughter in the theatre.

But with its great looks, marvellous score and first time director Muschietti beginning his cinematic ascent, Mama is good for a jump.

EJ Robinson

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Dates ‘n stuff

February 2013