Today: Jun 17, 2024

Movie Review: “Mama”

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Robin Glynn – General Assignment Reporter

Jessica Chastain, Oscar nominee for ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ gives audiences some chills in a typical Hollywood thriller film.

“Mama” is a supernatural thriller and tells about the haunting tale of two girls, Victoria, 3, and Lilly, 1.

The movie begins with the words “Once Upon A Time” written across the screen, though this is not a fairytale. “Mama” stars Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse and Daniel Kash. It is produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Ander Muschietti.

The movie starts and progresses quickly with a financial crisis, murder and kidnapping. A man kills two co-workers and his wife, then kidnaps his two daughters.

With the father’s rage and wintry weather, he crashes his car and takes his daughters to a cabin in the woods, and this is where bad things begin to happen.

Fast forward five years, the father’s brother searches for the girls and his brother.

They are found in the cabin where they have been living for the last five years, being cared for by a ghost they call ‘Mama.’

Being a typical thriller, the girls are talking to the spirit, and the spirit hangs around the family haunting one character, Chastain’s character Annabel, the uncle’s girlfriend. The film also has characters with different backgrounds, such as a doctor trying not to tell what he knows.

Muschietti adapted “Mama” from his short film from 2008 of the same name. Muschietti explored themes, such as motherhood as powerful and scary.

He showed the opposites between Annabel and the ghost, Mama.

Photo Courtesy |
Photo Courtesy |

The filmmakers use the typical old thriller routines to fill in blanks in the movie; the characters visiting the creepy old cabin in the woods at night instead of during the day, which can make audiences yell at the screen because of the characters’ bad decisions.

Audiences notice that Chastain’s long red locks are gone.

With the movie playing on gothic conventions, Chastain stars in this role with cropped black hair, dark eye makeup and tattoos; which is the polar opposite of what fans will see on the red carpet.

“If Mama’s not happy, no one is happy,” and Chastain’s character finds this out after she begins bonding with the girls.

“Mama” becomes more based on special effects for the ghost’s CGI silver hair, bent limbs and features. By the end of the movie, Annabel has to figure out what the ghost’s secret is in order to save the two girls.

When it comes to the ghost, the film plays on the conventions of gothic ghost stories.

The casting in the film is decent.

It’s atmospherically right on the money and it effectively utilizes unsettling imagery like inky wall splotches and moths that generate spontaneously. The film ends with a twist that, in a way, comes back to the first thing people see, “Once Upon A Time,” which sets up a happy ending.

While the film has its scares, it is a typical thriller that attempts to make you jump and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

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