It’s not wonder Guillermo Del Toro was the producer of Andy Muschietti movie, Mama. Once you’ve watched Pan’s Labyrinth is hard not to see the similarity between the two; both directors chose children to experienced an entrance into a new world, which isn’t fairy at all, but dark and mysterious, however, there’s a clear balance between good and bad in all creatures of the universe. And yet, I could only think of The Tall Man.
Therefore, I wouldn’t categorized Mama as a very scary horror film, as long as I wasn’t this afraid, (just surprised sometimes) knowing that I’m a real chicken-hearted. The creature is moving, just like Tim Burton‘s animated characters are, and I was only stressed in the beginning, a stress that rapidly fade away. I would just say that it seemed like it was targeting, at first, a Disney production, but hasn’t be accepted due to lack of gentle characters.
Now, if the movie starts on a pretty creepy note, it’s quickly erased from our spirits and only the pale dark colors and the excessive use of shadows, that prevented me from seeing anything sometimes, will remind us that this is a sad story. Two little girls, have lost their parents the same day on quite awful circumstances: the mother is killed by the father, and this one is killed by a ghost a few seconds before he tried to put an end to his older daughter’s life. To who’s that spirit belongs? Is it good? The only thing we know, is that for 5 years, both girls survived alone in a hut deep in the woods. The creature took care of them, but also took care of their dad and not tenderly, therefore, it is impossible to determine its motivations.
During those five years, the father’s twin brother, Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) will search for his nieces. And one day, they’re finally found. After so many time living on their own, with a groaning creature as a parental figure, you can’t expect the 8 and 6 years old, to speak and act like human beings. Indeed, they gained in velocity and adopted animal behaviors (that cruelly reminded me of The Grudge spirits ones). Thus, they had been under Doctor Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) surveillance before going back to their uncle’s house, who’s girlfriend is a rock’n’roll Jessica Chastain, Annabel. And I have to admit that she wasn’t fitting at all into the role.
Then, started the “taming” of the girls, which better worked on Victoria, the older girl, who knew how to talk and walk before the events. And it’s thanks to those elements, that things will evolved. Now, the script isn’t really solid, nor well constructed or maintained. It is, most of the time confusing and lacking of substance, whereas it could have been interesting, if the story and feelings of the creature were more developed and explained. It left us to make our own hypothesis, but if sometimes it’s a great initiative, in a horror movie it is not. Muschietti rather chose to play on the oneiric and nightmarish side of Mama, creating a parallel world, followed by a haunting melody. And if the idea is great, once again it has been misused.
Nevertheless, the last scene will stay a beautiful one, and the one leveling up the whole movie and partly covering its imperfections. And it’s at the end the very end that I felt horrified. I would considered a plot twist, but it did moved me.