Sunday 3 March 2013

Review: Mama

Year: 2013
Director: Andres Muschietti
Screenplay: Andres Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti, Neil Cross 
Starring: Jesscia Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 

Synopsis is here:

Mama is no reinvention of the horror wheel and I didn't expect it to be. To be honest I was happy enough to see this, along a few other titles, giving more attention to more "old school" tactics as opposed to the gore on the floor sightings of recent times. In fact, just the simple act of placing the economic crash of 2008 within the narrative, gives the film a framework, that similar films often wouldn't bother about. Even though such an event can date a film, Mama is at least interesting enough to claim that such occurrence would allow desperation to seep into households.

Such anguish sets the tone well for Mama, which like it's fellow stable mate Don't be Afraid of the Dark (Both hold Guillermo del Toro as Executive Producer), weaves a sad (yet patchy) fable of lost children at the hands of broken adults both past and present. An awkward info dump informs us that a ghost is an emotion, bent out of shape and doomed to repeat its mistakes again and again. The film's strength is that it knows what makes these ghost stories so appealing. If only more horror films tapped into their more human sides.

The film has its head screwed within the first two thirds, drip feeding us simple yet satisfyingly creepy moments. A static shot of Annabel (Chastain) doing the chores completely unaware of the disturbing occurrence inches away is a delight. As always, the less we see, the more perturbed we are about the whole experience and as we slowly learn more, we also chip away at the lead characters tough exterior. It's easy to see where the arc of this rebel rocker chick is going (it's a film call Mama and we see her reluctant for babies from the get-go) but Chastain is so balanced in the role she makes it engaging, even when you (or the jealous paranormal entity) wish to throttle her.

However, as is the case with all many of this type of affair, once the film lays all its cards on the table, we realise that the hand wasn't as strong as we first expected. Sub-plots fizzle out and the final reveal of Mama herself is less fearful than desired. Annoyingly Mama's final third is frustrating and loses much of the films good will from before. That said Mama should be a decent enough one watch for first dates so they can snuggle up together and see some extreme problems when it comes to child rearing.