Review: Mama (2013)
MAMA is based on a pretty decent argentinian short-Film made by director Andrés Muschietti from the year 2008, which already showed some of his Talents as a director. Universal picked up the story and produced the whole thing for the big Screen, using some pretty good international Actors like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain and the finished result looks surprisingly good!
The story leads us into a cabin in the woods, where the mentally unstable father Jeffrey is about to kill his two Daughters, after having already killed his wife due to financial problems just a few hours before. But luckily, it does not get to that, as something grabs and kills him before he can harm the two girls.
After five years, Jeffreys twin brother Lucas receives a call from the police, informing him about the presumed dead girls that were found alive in the wilderness. And after being under constant observation by a Team of doctors and psychiatrists for a couple weeks, the Girls are put back into the care of Lucas and his girlfriend to ensure their integration back into a normal life.
But as the girls spent most of their time on earth crawling around on all fours making Animal Noises, that is not as easy as they had actually expected. Nonetheless, everything seems to go smoothly and after a short period of time, the girls start getting attached their new old Family. But there seems to be another presence in the house, since the day the girls arrived in their new environment. And when Lucas suddenly has an accident and needs to spend some time in the hospital and has to leave the girls alone at home with his girlfriend, the situation escalates pretty badly.
Well, that´s it for the Story. The movie is pretty decent though there were a few things that absolutely disliked and I won´t hold back naming them. But let´s take a look at the good things first!
The acting was good and I am really happy to see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in a movie role, though it´s in a low budget horror film. He´s definitely one of my favorite characters in GAME OF THRONES and fits very well in a horror film. Jessica Chastain does a great Job playing the punky girlfriend without looking like an actress that´s trying to fit into the role. You could say that I was pretty happy with the acting of most of the cast. All roles are very well cast and Coster-Waldau has a great chemistry with the kids.
The two girls were acting very believable and unlike some other movies that have Scenes with child actors in them, it worked out this time. For their young age, they were good actors.
The Script was decent though there are some Elements in the Story that I really hated. At times, MAMA is really creepy and manages to build up quite some tension every now and then. The CGI in the first half of the film are really good and for a horror movie with a minimal budget of approximately 15 Million that´s based on a 3 Minute short-film, I was pleasantly surprised. The movie does not really need large amounts of blood and guts and i feel like that works best for this kind of movie. MAMA is rather One of these old Italian Ghosthouse Movies with an eerie lighting and a spooky Soundtrack. Speaking of the soundtrack, which is really good and creates a very uneasy feeling in some of the scenes.
Guillermo Del Toro is credited as producer but the biggest chunk of the movie is probably a product of Director Muschietti´s own creativity. I really like the director and the fact that MAMA is one of the better horror movies that i recently saw makes me wanting to generously overlook some of the weaknesses. There were many scenes where you´d expect something creepy to happen, but it actually came totally different. So MAMA plays a lot with clichés and uses that to its own advantage.
The children are seriously creepy and the way they walk made me really go WTF sometimes.
On the other hand, some of the things that happen are WAY too overused and it feels like though MAMA plays with clichés, it also ends up falling for some, what turns the whole thing into a mixed experience.
Though the Movie starts really strong, it ends up making some CLASSIC horror film mistakes towards the end. I am really surprised that some directors just do not seem to understand that movies like this work best if you see the monster or ghost not very well. You know, just think about NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET as an example. The first one was EXTREMELY scary because Freddy Krueger was barely visible in most of the Scenes. And when you saw him, everything was dark and shady, which left most of what was going on to the imagination of the viewer. Same here! The first half of the film they used the monster really well! But the moment you start seeing this MAMA monster a little better, it loses SO much credibility that it´s ridiculous. The CGI looked great for most of the time but during the final scenes, they regressed back to a below-average quality. Really, MAMA looked great until you saw her face full frontal and this could have been avoided SO easily. It takes away the mysterious aura of the Unknown and I feel like everyone who makes a horror film should know that. The ending managed to ruin most of the good that went on in the first half and I feel like this film deserved a better ending.
Apart from that, i felt like the screenplay had a bunch of cheesy elements in the story that ruined the credibility. SPOILERS. Like, the double-role of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for example. I really do not like storylines that involve twin-Brothers that are played by the same actor and this Time, it wasn´t any different. As soon as i see a well-known actor in two different roles in the same movie, it partially destroys the illusion.
Besides, the scene with him going to the hospital right after being attacked by a ghostly figure while basically leaving his girlfriend and nieces home alone with an evil power really rustled my Jimmies.
So yeah, the first half of MAMA is good solid horror that surprises with some great spooky moments and decent ghost house elements but is spoiled by some really rookie mistakes towards the end. Nonetheless, MAMA is one of the best horror movies of 2013!