February 1, 2013

Mama (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2023587/
(aka A Mother's Love is Creepy.)
Release Date: In Theaters now.
Country: Spain & Canada.
Written by:  Andres Muschietti and Neil Cross.
Directed by: Andres Muschietti.
Starring:  Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse, and Javier Botet.

Mama is a top-notch Horror flick that had us engrossed in its creepy shenanigans from the get-go... and then the ending happened.

After losing it all during the 2008 financial crisis, which lead him to kill killing his business partners and his own wife, Jeffrey decides to take his sweet little daughters on a drive down an icy, snow-covered road. While doing his best 100 mph impression of The Fast & Furious on ice, he loses control and the car and slides off of a cliff, crashing into the forest below. He and his daughters trek through the snowy woods and take refuge in an old abandoned cabin, where he whips out a gun and prepares to finish his murder-suicide plan... until some creepy spirit shows up and drags him off into the woods. The ghost then gives the terrified little girls a cherry, because, why not.

"Daddy?"
Five years later, the girls are found alive in a feral state, and are brought back to society. Jeffrey's twin brother, Lucas, vows to take care of his nieces with the help of his "I don't want no kids, I just wanna rock!" Goth/Emo-looking girlfriend, Annabel. The dysfunctional Brady Bunch settles into their new home, only to have odd things begin to happen, including creepy visions of shadow figures and the kids talking and playing with someone they call "Mama."

Creepy kid is creepy.
It's clear that Mama doesn't want anyone touching her babies, and so things get creepier and more violent. The older girl, Victoria, tries to warn Lucas and Annabel about the dangers of Mama, while the younger girl, Lily, just tends to growl a lot and talk like Jodie Foster in Nell. Even though Annabel doesn't seem to like kids, and is a horrible role-model for them anyway, she isn't about to let Mama scare her off or hurt the kids. She's learning to love again, you see.

She's also learning to scream again.
As people around the kids start to get hurt and even die, Annabel races against time (don't they always?) to discover who Mama is, and to figure out a way to save the girls. Will Mama kill everyone and get her babies back? Will these creepy kids help Mama kill everyone? Will Annabel ever rock out with her band again? Far be it from us to spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that in the end, there will be hugs. Hugs and moths.

Worst babysitter ever.
Guillermo Del Toro loves genre storytelling, and his movies show it. They tend to be well-crafted, atmospheric, and laced with emotion, and for the most part, they are fantastic. Though he only produced Mama, you can see his imprint on the film, and the movie is definitely better off for it.

Mama is a feature length adaptation of Director Andres Muschietti's short film of the same name. At times it feels as if the concept of that short was stretched out a bit too much to make it feature length, but for the most part the movie works well. If nothing else, it feels earnest and real, and its atmosphere did a great job at sucking us in, and making us forget that CGI ghosts aren't all that scary. Mama was pretty creepy at times, and genuinely compelling overall.

Is there an actress that is hotter (career-wise) than Jessica Chastain is right now? Between Mama and Zero Dark Thirty, the girl owns the top two spots at the Box Office right now, which is no mean feat. She's great in this movie (although her character annoyed us at times), and it's not hard to see why she's such a hot commodity. Nicolaj Coster-Waldau is no slouch either; the guy rules on HBO's Game of Thrones, and as a film star, he's just as compelling. We also can't forget to mention the little actresses who played the girls in this movie, because they were great in this one too.

"A Lannister always pays his debts, bitch."
As much as we enjoyed Mama, we were a bit let down by the way the CGI Mama looked at times. The movie overall does a good job of portraying the vengeful spirit in a realistic and creepy light, but the problem is that it's near impossible to articulate realistic facial expressions with CGI, thus, CGI can look cartoonish at times. Javier Botet did an excellent job playing Mama; the way that guy can move and contort his body is truly a thing of creepy brilliance. I would have much rather preferred practical FX for the facial shots to complement Botet's performance, because some of Mama's transformations and expressions just felt too fake.

Next time, no close-ups.
**SPOILER WARNING** Does every Guillermo Del Toro movie have to go and get all sentimental at the end? This movie was fantastic... right up until its last few minutes, where the ghost is shown in a sympathetic and caring light. I love Del Toro and the emotion his films always convey, but I neither need nor want catharsis in the midst of getting the shit scared out of me. Nothing (usually) ruins a good Horror flick faster than an antagonist (killer, spirit, et al.) being portrayed in a sympathetic light. If you have to explain motivation, fine, but showing too much of it changes a movie's dynamic, and with Horror flicks, it tends to suck the "scary" right out of things.

The interpretive dance scene.
 
Mama is filled with all sorts of disturbing imagery and scenes, but as far as the bloodletting goes, it's a relatively dry affair.

Much to our chagrin, Jessica Chastain kept her clothes on in this one. She's just too big of a star now to be running around naked anymore, we guess. For shame.

Those are not the eyes of a good girl!
 
Mama is a movie that works on most levels right up until the very end, and then still works, but just doesn't work as well as it could have. Make no mistake about it; this is Jessica Chastain's movie. The whole "reluctant step-mom vs. vengeful maternal ghost" thing is most definitely a meditation on motherly love, and sexy Jessica pulls it off quite nicely. Mama is creepy and atmospheric, and despite its flaws, it entertained us just fine.

B+

It's nice to see one of Hollywood's hottest Gingers starring in a Horror flick like this, because it shows that she's cool people, as well as being really hot. We just love us some Jessica Chastain.

 

9 comments :

  1. Yes it does You know this. We are great fans and yes every movie of his does have to go all sentimental right at the end. EVERY ONE

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  2. Yes every movie. We are huge fans and we know that every movie he makes has a sentimental ending. EVERY ONE.

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  3. I really thought this movie was horrible... I could have dealt with it sans the cheesy ending and awful CGI, but I ended up going WTF and rolling my eyes. Waaay too high a rating IMHO, I would have given it a D+. Even before the ending, it was just plain boring and failed to keep my interest. The ending just made it stupid/solidified it, if it had a good twisted ending maybe a B - but that's pure fantasy... the movie as is sucks.

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  4. Anon, I can't agree with you that the movie sucked, because it just didn't suck as a whole.

    You are, however, dead on with the ending. We loved everything about Mama right up until the cliff scene... which we thought was the absolute wrong ending for this movie.

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  5. The ending was no good. Why the heck did they use this kind of cheesy CGI? And those facial expressions on this bitch were ridiculous. Hell, I was watching a horror movie! Don't you go and destroy the mood! I rather dig an ending crying for a sequel. A revengeful bitch should stay a revengeful bitch. I'm all for 'Kill the bitch!'

    I heard and read lots of good things about this movie and therefore I'm disappointed. For me, it's just a bit above average, making it a C+. But Jess was formidable. And the little girls were well-casted as well. Sadly, I don't feel like watching it again.

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  6. For anybody, who still hasn't seen the original three minute short: http://vimeo.com/10456782

    It's sensational IMO.

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  7. Nice one, Phil. The short is a really fun watch.

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  8. The best way to understand the ending here, Myra, is that Guillermo Del Toro films tend to get very sentimental at the end.

    We whole-heartedly agree that the ending should have stayed mean and dark, and not exploded in love and butterflies...

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  9. I SO agree about the crappy CGI...sometimes the mood can be even scarier with a more organic/ natural feel/ effect. I am getting a bit bored with the whole CGI overkill, be it spooks or blood spatter...use it in moderation people!

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