Film Review: Mama

MamaFrom executive producer Guillermo del Toro, Mama is a suitably atmospheric horror. Unfortunately the film lacks genuine frights.

When Lucas’ two young nieces disappear following an incident with their father, he never gives up hope of finding them. When they are found five years later having lived in the forest alone, Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel are tasked with raising them. There seems to be something stopping the girls from fully reintegrating…

The plot of director and co-writer Andy Muschietti’s film is adequate enough. However, as with so many horror films, the narrative turns are somewhat predictable. The story is not a classic. Mama begins with a plausible enough premise but it is not too long before it descends into horror cliché. This is typified by the archivist, with a particular discovery she makes and the way in which she relates it. Intentionally or not, this comes across as amusing.

The pacing of Mama is good. A number of the scares are straight out of the horror textbook. These fail to generate the intended outcome, and creates a laughable effect on one or two occasions. Muschietti’s film needed to be more jumpy in order to truly engage the audience.

Mama is nicely shot. The brooding lighting creates atmosphere. There is a fluidity to the camera work which is aesthetically pleasing. Special effects are good overall. Sound likewise is used to good effect for the most part, although it is occasionally overbearing.

Jessica Chastain sports a different look for Mama. Her performance is as competent as ever. Megan Charpentier is excellent as Victoria. She really captures the distracted and disconnected side to her character. Performances elsewhere are serviceable.

Mama is not a horror classic; only the very nervous will find it scary. Nevertheless, the ending at least offers something a little refreshing and unexpected.