‘Mama’ Review: A Modern Horror Genre Work of Art
Mama is a refreshingly different horror film.
Usually I can’t stand recently made horror movies. They all meld together in my mind as one giant bad movie. Every single one seems to use the same scare tactics with slightly different story lines. Unlike those, Mama is one of the few recent horror films that I really enjoyed. It’s movies like this that give me hope for the horror genre of the future.
Mama is written by Neil Cross and co-written and directed by Andres Muschietti and presented by Guillermo del Toro. It’s based off of a short film of the same name (also directed by Muschietti). You can watch it here.
The premise is really original and quite refreshing compared to most new horror films. Two little girls are abandoned in a cabin out in the wilderness by their father who has completely lost-it. A strange entity (Mama) in the cabin raises them for what I am assuming is about 5-6 years. The girls are found by two old guys and are then given to their uncle and his girlfriend to be taken care of. After being raised in the wilderness by Mama, the two little girls are pretty much feral. Just to make things worse, the ghost follows them to their new home. Mama then becomes jealous of the girls new caretakers and gets really pissed. I don’t really want to spoil any of it so I’ll just leave it at that.
First lets talk about the overall look and feel of the film. I thought all of the shots in the film were pretty effective at making you feel uneasy. I felt like something bad was going to happen a few times but nothing did. The directing keeps you on your toes quite well. When the shot was meant to be scary, its was really scary. I got really stressed out (in a good way) more than just once or twice. Also, I rather liked the tones of the filters they used. Don’t know why, I just did. One thing that I noticed and it really bothered me was that when it was night-time in the house, it was daylight outside. The curtains were shut with a lot of sunlight coming through. Like enough to light up the whole house. Overall directing and cinematography was pretty good, no big complaints.
All in all the sets were pretty cool. The cabin looked like it was abandoned in the early 1960′s or so. That added a little bit more creepiness to me. Speaking of houses, the house that the girls move into after being found was pretty cool too. There’s one hallway in particular that was super creepy. A lot of scary shots take place there.
The CGI seemed a little low-budget at times. When it was used, it was really obvious. In one of the first scenes there’s a car driving down a snowy mountain road really fast and it has a bunch mid-grade CGI. Even the snow. My friend sitting next to me said “Guh… CGI. Even the snow in movies isn’t real anymore.”. I totally agree with his sentiment. All the CGI in that scene was distracting and made it feel a little cheap. It in no way devalued the movie for me, it just irritated me a bit.
The acting was really solid for the whole cast. No one was significantly better than anyone else. There was one actress that was in it for a couple of minutes that sucked. You’ll know who I’m talking about when you watch it. The dialogue was pretty well written. There were no empty, irrelevant conversations thankfully. That always makes me hate a script.
The soundtrack was fairly unremarkable. I don’t remember any of the music. So that’s that.
The Mama ghost is so freaking creepy. Whoever designed it is brilliant. When I went home after the movie, all that I could think about was that super tall deformed woman just standing in my hallway. Her image really stuck in my head. The only thing that was creepier than the way she looked was the way she sounded. She makes this strange moaning sound accompanied with eerie clicks.
I’m not going to say whether or not I liked the ending. I’ll let you decide that for yourself. I don’t want to leave anyone with a predisposition of it.
Overall this is a great movie in my opinion. We need more films like this to change modern horror. There’s just too many awful remakes and just plain crappy original titles. If you have been wanting to see an actually scary movie, go see this. It’s a wonderfully creepy film that I recommend to any horror fan. In conclusion, I really liked Mama and I’ll surely buy it on Blu-ray when it comes out.
- By Chris Neal