by Chris Lovato
It’s October, and that means another Halloween Must-Watch Movie List!
With all the horror movies out there, it can be extremely hard to find something good and scary to watch. Well, if you’re looking for something good, and scary, it might be a good idea to kick off your Halloween movie binge with a particularly creepy gem by Guillermo del Toro: Mama.
When two girls are left abandoned in a cabin in the woods, they’re found years later. Feral and skittish, they confound both the doctor investigating their case and their uncle Lucas, who is their father’s identical twin.
Suddenly saddled by the responsibility for his nieces, Lucas moves into a house with his girlfriend, Annabel, to try and give the girls a normal life. As the doctor interviews the girls, they keep speaking of someone named “Mama” who took care of them in the woods. Although nobody knows who they’re talking about, everyone seems to dismiss “Mama” as an imaginary friend.
As Annabel is forced to spend time alone with the girls, she starts to learn that Mama may be real…and very dangerous. Now, she and Lucas must figure out what’s going on before Mama comes for them.
I wish I could write more on the plot, but too much would give away the entire movie. I can say, however, that the story takes twists and turns to end in a clasically del Toro fashion.
In a dual role, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones, Oblivion) plays Jeffrey, the girls’ father, and Lucas, their uncle. Although his role in the plot isn’t prominent, Lucas shows the dedication he has to his nieces in everything he does, even going so far as to use his own money to fund a search for them.
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help) shines as Annabel, a rocker turned pseudo-mother. To see her go from carefree musician to the girls’ protector is almost startling, and she shows strength even in the face of the worst the movie has to throw at her.
Megan Charpentier (Jennifer’s Body, Red Riding Hood) is Victoria, the elder of the two girls. Of the two, she seems to be the only one with a vocabulary, albeit a limited one; despite this, her emotions are palpable as the movie goes on.
Isabelle Nelisse (Whitewash, The Strain) is Lilly, the younger and more feral of Jeffrey’s children. Because she was very young when abandoned, she has a stronger connection to Mama as the only parent she’s ever really known.
Finally, Javier Botet ([REC], Witching & Bitching) is Mama. Even though the character is computer animated, Botet brings a creepy kind of life to the entity that watched over the girls. Perhaps even more potent than the scare factor is the tragic backstory of the character, revealed in snippets throughout the film.
Mama is the kind of movie that can pride itself on having a “monster” that’s scary because you see so little of it, but eventually, we get to see Mama in full view. The CGI on her hair alone is impressive, and one might find Mama’s face etched into one’s nightmares after viewing the movie. Aside from Mama, the other major CGI in the film came in the form of moths that signal Mama’s presence.
Although the ending is a tear jerker, I would highly recommend this film for its ability to keep the creep factor up during the entire movie, whether through jumps or shocking storylines.
Acting 4 / 5
Plot 5 / 5
Setting 5 / 5
Fear Factor 5 / 5
Overall 4.5 / 5