My hopes weren’t exactly high for Mama. I had the feeling it would just be another horror film thrown out into cinemas with the branding of a well-known director as an executive producer – in this case, Guillermo Del Toro. The film extends on the director, Andrés Muschietti’s short film which caught the eye of Del Toro leading up to him giving Muschietti a chance to turn this short piece into a feature length film.
So what’s the premise? A business-man called Jeffrey loses it, killing his wife and co-workers before taking his two young daughters into the wilderness to escape the authorities; they end up crashing the car and stumble upon a weird cabin. The father takes his daughters inside and before killing himself and his two children; a weird demonic creature grabs the dad and finishes him off.
Cut to five years later, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – the brother of Jeffrey and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain) are still looking for Jeffrey’s children and by a spot of luck, a rescue party manages to find the girls, who now act like crazy wild animals due to their living conditions for the past five years.
The kids are slowly reintroduced into society and are adopted by Waldau and Chastain, but it’s not all hunky-dory when weird occurrences start to take place as the demonic creature, referred to as Mama by the children, returns to reclaim the daughters whom she took care of whilst they were in the wilderness.
Mostly, Mama works – it captures the right creepy atmosphere and surprisingly has some really nice visuals; this is one of the better looking recent horror films. Muschietti incorporates some very interesting tracking shots which help to effectively build up the film’s tension; and admittedly I jumped several times and was left with sweating palms; something most recent horror films don’t usually make me do.
The main gripe I have with the film however is the ending; it completely shifts in tone and just doesn’t feel right – when we actually get to see Mama up close, the demon just looks ridiculous; they should have kept Mama confined to the shadows to maintain the creepiness and to hide the awful CGI.
Overall; Mama is an often scary horror outing and an interesting first film from the director – It’s just a shame about the downer ending.
3 stars ★★★✰✰