Oh!  Mama!

Oh! Mama!

“Mama” might best be described as a thinking person’s horror movie.   The film has been well shot, decently acted and has great effects.  Yes, there are some scares and shocks, but they are mostly of the “boo,” “gotcha,” “cue the scary music” variety.    While I respect the effort, the film did not work for me.

Two young sisters, Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse) are nearly murdered  by their father (played by Nikolaj Coster Waldan) in an isolated cabin in the woods.  The sisters are saved by a supernatural entity  (looking like a cross between a tree and a woman) who quickly dispatches the father before he can do the sisters any harm.  Five years later the girls are found alive in the very same cabin.  They have developed into animal like, feral children.  They are put into the care of their rock and roll band playing uncle and aunt (translation: not responsible), played by Nikolaj Coster Waldan (who also played the father) and Jessica Chastain.  However, a supernatural element seems to stalk the girls, as well as their aunt and uncle, in their new home.  Gee, could it be that poltergeist tree woman who saved the girls lives five years ago?  Obviously it is.  The girls know that it is (of course they do not tell anyone), but it takes the grown up characters way to long to figure out what we, the audience, already know (an hour and 40 minutes, to be exact).

While we mark time waiting for the characters to catch up to us we are treated to some very nicely done CGI (computer graphic imaging) effects.  There are lots of big CGI created moths that fly about the house, images of the Tree Woman coming through the walls and later, the Tree Woman in all her glory.  We also get to see Chastain channel rocker Joan Jett with a short, black punk hair do and sleeveless T shirts.  There is also a psychologist, Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) who bumbles about, contributing next to nothing to the proceedings.  Bottom line, I just did not care about the characters or their situation.

All of this is really unfortunate because I believe that director Andres Muschietti and executive producer Guillermo del Toro (director of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” 2006 and “Hellboy,” 2004, among other films) were really trying to make a horror film that was not just about slashers or what has come to be known as “torture porn.”  They were trying to do something different, with some meaning.  I understood this and did try to get on this ride, but ultimately could not.

Mama, Director Andres Muschietti, 2013,

Universal Pictures,  100 minutes, PG-13


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on January 25, 2013, in New and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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