Mama (2013) – Film Review
Director: Andres Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier
by Dan Berlinka
Mama is low-key supernatural hokum, that’s long on atmosphere, but short on plausibility. Which, after a promising start, finds itself with nowhere to go in the later stages.
It’s a decent enough premise, and Jessica Chastain does as much as she can with a fairly one-note character. She has tattoos, plays in a band and when we first meet her she’s relieved to find out she’s not pregnant. A caption with the words ‘she’s not very maternal’ would only have been marginally less subtle.
But once the supernatural shenanigans kick in properly, the film loses momentum and just gets increasingly silly. This is the kind of movie where characters decide to visit creepy cabins in the woods, only at night. And alone.
There are good supporting performances all round, particularly the two young girls. For the most part the direction favours creeping menace over hackneyed sudden shocks – although there are still a few of those.
But overall it may have been wiser to age the whole picture down to something more family friendly. Because as things stand, and as with the not dissimilar Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, the words ‘presented by Guillermo del Toro’ are starting to lose their value as an indication of quality for an audience of grown-ups.