Friday, July 6, 2018

Movie Review: Mama (2013)

Mama (2013) co-written and directed by Andy Muschietti

Two young girls lose their parents and spend five years in an isolated cabin. Their uncle Lucas spends down to his last penny and finally finds them. The girls have gone feral so naturally they wind up in government care. They show signs of recovery. The shrink working with them wants the girls to have a stable home life to continue the improvements. Lucas is an artist and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain) plays guitar in a rock band. They are not exactly model parents, especially when another aunt wants custody. The shrink recommends for Lucas and Annabel after cutting a deal where he can continue to observe the children. His practice offers them a normal suburban house to live in where they uneasily set up their new family. Too bad the supernatural entity that took care of the kids in the cabin came with them to the new home. And is jealous, very jealous, of the girls' affection.

The movie spends a lot of time and effort on the set up. Instead of making the story slow, they created interesting characters and a believable enough situation that viewers naturally want to find out what's going on and what's going to happen. The actors do a great job, making the movie more compelling and interesting throughout. It's a well-crafted and well-acted horror film.

The whole movie emphasizes atmosphere. A lot of the terror is created through the sound effects--the sounds of the ghost, the evocative music, etc. The visuals are effective because they are restrained. The spiritual entity Mama is, like the shark in Jaws, not really seen until the end. One or two of the jump scares are telegraphed too much, robbing them of shock value. Otherwise the film is very well crafted and thrilling. The gore is very minimal and probably why the movie is rated PG-13 (though it is more like 13 going on 21--not at all kid-appropriate unless your kid likes to have nightmares).

Recommended as a horror film in the vein of The Woman in Black.

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