[Mama]
Synopsis:Annabel and Lucas are faced with the challenge of raising his young nieces that were left alone in the forest for 5 years...but how alone were they?

Cast:Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jessica Chastain, Jane Moffat, Daniel Kash, Megan Charpentier, Julia Chantrey, Hannah Cheesman.

My Thoughts:This uh, this ain't scary.

Review:I was really looking forward to finally seeing "Mama". Mostly because it had gotten the Guillermo Del Toro stamp of approval. When he put his..."Guillermo Del Toro Presents" tag on it. But after seeing the movie? Well...is it as bad as our American concocted so called, "ghost flicks"? No. But...there are some problems that prevent this movie from being all the "scary" it can be. The film follows two young girls, Lily and Victoria.

Their father takes them to a cabin deep in the woods one day. Apparently, trying to keep them from their mother. That don't fly though, because ya see..."Mama" is...ALWAYS, around. Because she's "passed on", and has become what the Chinese call an 'angry ghost'. So after she takes out the girls father, she then watches over them. Meanwhile, the girls uncle Lucas is pouring his life savings (literally, it's revealed early in the movie that he's damn near broke)...into finding his young nieces. Which a search party eventually does.



Lucas and his wife Annabel then take the children in. But Victoria and Lily's time in the cabin has made them twisted and stoic. They look like two girls who've been to hell and back. And once taken in by Annabel and Lucas, they...over time, begin to slightly "thaw out". But something dark, sinister, and ominous still lingers over the girls. An entity who they refer to as "MAMA". But who is she, and what does she want? I thought what killed "Mama" as a scary movie was, it lacked scares! I heard people during week #1 raving about how scary this movie was. Again, you have to remember, I am in the 18 to 35 demo, male, and born and raised in New York. I've also seen plenty of horror films.

So perhaps my receptors to horror films or "scary movies", aren't as sharp as they should be. As I get less and less impressed with current genre films over time. And as opposed to 3 or 4 good horror films a year, which I could find like 4 years ago? I can hardly find one horror film a year that comes close to blowing me away *crosses fingers for Evil Dead Remake in April*. But anyways..."Mama" does not even come close to being impressive. Is it "by the numbers"? "boring"? "rehashed"? No.



The plot is something new and interesting. But the execution is painful to watch. The ball is dropped here so many times. When you are waiting for the film to grab the reigns of a golden opportunity, that comes in the form of a certain scene or two. And it never grabs those reigns, or seizes that opportunity. At that point you just shake your head in disappointment. This movie had loads of potential. But for some reason, the writer, director, or both...just didn't push hard enough for genuine, biting, and toothy scares. I wanted to be freaked out by this movie on a level of what "The Ring" remake did.
Or "The Grudge" remake. I found "The Grudge" remake characters about as exciting and interesting as watching paint dry, but those moments when the long-haired chick popped up and make that "croaking" sound? GOLDEN! It was like "ah man here she comes again!". That's what I was expecting "Mama" to give me. Those moments where she pops up and freaks out the audience. And then everyone is like, "look out! Mama's back!" But all this movie does for about 95 minutes is foreshadow her appearances. And when she does appear, there's no aggression, or uncontrollable blood-lust or rage.


There's just some living-black-ectoplasm on the wall, or a shadow moving in the distance. There's one scene way in the final 15 minutes of the movie where we get to see MAMA in full view and she attacks Annabel. But when you see this scene, you wonder where was "more" of this throughout? Sure, having your ghost pop up every 5 minutes ala "Darkness Falls" can be cheesy and headache-inducing. But people pay to see the spooky, creepy ghost lady at least make a few plays for her main targets before the late third act. Well, at least I do.



But to put it gently, "Mama" was just too slow for my tastes. And for some reason, it also tacks on a "child psychologist" angle into the hijinx, which I felt was unnecessary. There's nothing I hate more than scary movies where some shrink sits down the lead kid or kids, and tries to get them to explain why they're "seeing shit". I mean those moments are just damn annoying. And unless they're gonna be well-played in some sort of back and forth fashion, ala Esther in "Orphan"...they're pretty much a waste. Jessica Chastain, who plays Annabel in the film does an excellent job in the lead female role.

And I like that they gave her character some meat. Like for example, her playing in a rock band. And the husband was for once, not in the forefront of the movie. And wasn't relegated to the typical scary movie husband or leading man, who tells his wife she's "crazy", "insane", or "stressed out" when she explains to him what she's seeing or feeling, in terms of the supernatural. But "Mama"s biggest problem was its title character. She wasn't on-screen enough, she doesn't attack enough, she just isn't the spooky bad-ass that an entity with special abilities and primal rage is supposed to be in a horror flick. And even after a tear-jerker and at times, suspense-filled ending, "Mama" still falls short of being the "most terrifying horror film of 2013"...that I was expecting it to be. In the end, I was disappointed.

THE GOOD:The plot of the movie had potential to be scary. Jessica Chastain's performance was well done. The finale (basically the movies final 12 minutes or so), are as good as it gets.

THE BAD:Yes, the films final 12 minutes are very intense. But the problem is...this movie is 95 minutes. Why am I only getting 12 to 15 minutes of edge-of-your-seat thrills in a 95 minute movie I paid $15 bucks to see? Mama is the films villain it seems only because of the movies title. She's hardly a major threat. She hangs back and lurks too much. Very rarely taking the initiative.

OVERALL:One and a half stars out of four.





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