Mama (2013)

After two young sisters are abandoned in a remote cabin in the woods, a powerful entity embraces them as her own. When they are found and brought back to civilization, much has changed in the five years that has past, since they begun their life under the watchful eye of Mama. When the sister’s Uncle Lucas, and his girlfriend Annabel are faced with the task of raising the siblings, they realize quickly that these girls are more challenging than anticipated. A mothers love is eternal, powerful and all consuming. Lucas and Annabel begin to understand that whatever the girls left back in the wildness may have followed them and is willing to do whatever necessary to get the pair back to where they belong.

A classic ghost story, with a Hollywood twist. The film is beautifully filmed, with artistic flare and intrigue. The opening sequence has a fairy tale brilliance to it with Guillermo Del Toro’s signature fingerprint on it, similar to the The Devil’s Backbone (2001). The characters are interesting, and the dynamic between the pair raising the girls and the sister’s development back into traditional family life is well executed. There are a number of genuinely creepy scenes that make you cringe. Unfortunately, as the film progresses the overuse of CGI overshadows the wonderfully spooky story.

The first half of the film is full of wonderfully beautiful and full of rich character development, mixed with strange foreboding images and events with the mysterious entity known as Mama. As the film progresses the film becomes painfully cliche full of pedestrian scare tactics. The story is slow moving with plot holes and concludes with an anti-climatic sequence, that was almost insulting to the audience. Reminiscent of The Ring and the Grude, the story does not add any new elements to the the face of cinema. 

Guillermo Del Toro discovered the films creator, Andy Muschietti after viewing his short Mama which came out in 2008. The short is creepy, concise and contains all the scare that the full length film does not, which ends up feeling glossy, fake and unbelievable. This is unfortunate because the short is artistic, eerie and makes a statement. The full length film contained the same elements as the short, but it felt as though random scenes had been thrown in for filler, rather than teasing apart the story to make it richer.

Regardless of the powerful characters and wonderful development, the conclusion of the film ends up leaving the audience with a foul taste as the last act becomes ludicrous with plot holes and excessive melodrama. For those who enjoy a tame ghost story with a few chills, Mama is worth a viewing, but do not expect innovation.

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