Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier Genre:Horror/Thriller/Drama
Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) presents Mama
– an eerie story of death and loss, succeeding only because of its unoriginal use
of suspense and quick gut-wrenching jolts.
Like most other horror films, the audience are manipulated into believing they have
just seen an epic, scary movie. It depends what you are wanting out of the
cinematic experience, but being a sceptical movie viewer myself, I left the screen
with nothing other than utmost disappointment. Heart-stopping, breath-taking,
toe-curling revulsion? Yes, it’s got all of that… but is that all that makes a
good horror film?
Mama tells the tale of two daughters
Victoria and Lilly, left abandoned in the woods after their ruined father
murdered their mother. After surviving for five years on a diet of cherries and
moths, their father’s brother Lucas (Nikolaj
Coster-Waldau) finally rescues the girls and offers them a home with
himself and his goth-rocker girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain), but whatever
it was that took care of these feral creatures is reluctant to let them go. A
phantom figure nicknamed ‘Mama’ - a black spiritual character with a face of
despair - is willing to do everything in her power to keep the girls under her
maternal care, mourning the loss of her own baby long ago.
Underneath the subversive façade of creeps in the dark, flashes, scuttles and
ear-piercing shrieks is a somewhat compelling allegory about the everlasting
love of a Mother and the anguish surrounding the death of a parent or child.
However, Muschietti and Cross fail to create a film that could have the
potential to inspire and shock an audience, instead producing a piece of cinema
that yes, can release adrenaline and get your heart-racing, but doesn’t stick
in your mind for any longer than one (albeit, daunting) night.
The makers of this film have focussed too much attention on deliberately
scaring their watchers and have thus neglected to emphasise a story that already
has the ability to astonish and panic, without the embarrassing frontage of
slamming doors, creaks, shrieks and whispers in the night.
What makes this film watchable is of course the undeniable scare-factor, but
also a refreshingly bold performance from the always impressive Jessica
Chastain. If it wasn’t for the Zero Dark Thirty star, then the movie would fall
flat and carry no charisma whatsoever.
Mama is not a film that you’ll
remember for the rest of the life. For an adrenaline fix, or something to go
see when you’re bored, Mama is not
completely unbearable as it does tick the boxes of a cliché horror film.
However, the direction, cinematography, production and dire script of this
movie are what make it a dull and unoriginal motion picture that will be
forgotten within a few months.