“Mama” brings chills to viewers
Ben Randolph, Contributing Writer
January 25, 2013
Filed under Arts & Entertainment
If the weather isn’t enough to make you cold right now, then perhaps the new Guillermo del Toro-produced film “Mama” will be able to give you the chills (the pun was completely intended).
The movie presents itself as a modern-day fairy tale that tells the story of young sisters Victoria and Lilly. They are rescued from a cabin in the woods, where they had become feral after living there, seemingly alone, for five years. They are then given a chance at a normal life with their uncle and his tattooed rocker girlfriend Annabel.
Only something followed the girls from the cabin. Something initially dismissed as an imaginary friend. Something that wants the girls all to itself. Something the girls call… Mama.
As is often the case, “Mama” is scarier when the titular spirit is kept off screen or shrouded in darkness. When Mama finally does reveal herself, the overdone CGI ruins her, prompting more laughter than fright, which is a shame. The filmmakers actually hired someone to portray Mama (Javier Botet), and the moments when the film slows down and lingers on her face, showcasing more of the actual actor, are truly eerie.
For the most part, the acting is better than usual for a horror film. All the adult actors are at least halfway decent, and Jessica Chastain is believable as the girls’ reluctant guardian. However, the real stars of the film are Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse as Victoria and Lilly.
The bond the girls share is strikingly genuine. Victoria is the older and more civilized sister, and Charpentier exceeds at the difficult task of balancing fright, innocence, and maturity. Lilly is the younger and more feral child, remaining closer to Mama. Nélisse packs a lot of punch into a performance for a character that barely speaks.
Being a horror film, there are the usual pointless jump scares and stupid decisions made by supposedly rational people. But that is to be expected. “Mama” is more than worthy of your attention for the performances of Charpentier and Nélisse alone. Also, the ending is far more gutsy than the usual “killer survives” or “everybody dies” endings that are so played out in horror films. And “Mama” is much more satisfying because of it.
Watch the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/user/MamatheMovie.