Mama

28 Jan

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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?” (Rated PG-13; 1 hour 40 minutes)

It turns out movies actually can be decent in January. Horror films are an interesting breed. Like most movies in general, the majority are unoriginal and mediocre (even if I still enjoy them). People who like them still turn up, because in spite of the cliches and the same template that each one seems to follow, they still want to feel scared, jump and yelp a few times in their seat, and see some crazy and disturbing images. Is there anything less original at this point than the tense scene where someone is creeping around in the dark, tension is building, and then a damn cat suddenly jumps and meows out of nowhere scaring the main character and the audience? That is one of the cheapest, most cliched gimmicks in any horror flick, and yet it continues to work to scare audiences even though they hate themselves for being scared so cheaply.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s really easy to scare the audience that’s already tense and jumpy while watching; anything that happens to be original and creative on top of that is simply gravy for most horror fans. (Much like how we action fans enjoy the same crap each time, but when the movie happens to be smart on top of the action people get to say, “wow, that really WAS good!”)

Mama followed most of the same template we’ve seen in dozens of other scary ghost flicks:

-The ghost is in limbo terrorizing people until it gets what it never resolved in its death. (Hey screenwriters, how about you stop writing this redundant, explanatory scene of what ghosts are, and just start realizing it’s not our first rodeo!)

-The kids creepily see and know what’s up well before the adults do. (Some movies they’re scared ahead of time and the adults don’t believe them, sometimes they like the ghosts and aren’t threatened by them.)

-Someone starts to investigate the past to see what happened to the ghost and right the wrong. (Usually someone less important starts to investigate first so that he/she can die, thus paving the way for our main character to investigate it.)

All that’s left to that template that makes it distinct from one movie to another is how it all plays out, how it visually looks, and whether there’s a happy ending or not.

I’m happy to report that Mama managed to do a lot of things right. Although the story of the ghost wasn’t particularly original, the premise at the start of the movie – that these children were raised in the forest in isolation by this ghost, and loved her – it set up quite a nifty little movie where you’re observing a bit of a case study of what happens to humans raised in the wild. It could have actually been made without the supernatural elements and been a cool drama! The older daughter was fine, but it was the younger 6 year old who was really creepy and at times funny to watch, as she was constantly acting like a little animal, eating paper, crawling on all fours, and basically adding an inventive element of both horror and and squirming laughter to the movie.

The ghost, aka “Mama”, was much more visible in the movie than most scary ghosts are in these flicks, and the first time you see the her interact with the children in the real world is actually quite hilarious; you suddenly realize that there’s this terrifying antagonist to the story, and yet the children absolutely love her and even giggle around her. It’s weird and refreshing to some degree.

I realized that Jessica Chastain truly is a chameleon. I honestly can barely recognize her from one role to another, and even in this movie she was a bit more complex and interesting than most “parental” figures from horror movies who run around trying to stay alive and protect the kids. And I also liked Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in his role as their uncle; it’s nice to see him in a role where he isn’t sleeping with his sister (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to start watching Game of Thrones)!

I also was impressed by the camera’s imagery of all of the dreams and flashbacks shown that explain the ghost’s back-stor.  That story itself is pretty ordinary, but it was done well enough, and from the POV of the ghost, that I was impressed.

The movie was better and more visually creative than Case 39, another horror movie where a woman (Renee Zellweger) fosters a child and then encounters scary shit. But it wasn’t as good as The Ring which still to this day has some of the creepiest setting, images and children that I can remember in the ghost genre.

Quality Rating: B (Unoriginal, but filmed and acted better than most)

Boaz Rating: A- (I was creeped out and into it)

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5 Responses to “Mama”

  1. ninibabexo April 13, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    I read this rating & decided to watch “Mama” last night. You we’re definitely right in this review. Not scary but DEFINITELY creepy.

    Like

    • boazconstrictor April 13, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

      Ooh, I’m incredibly flattered that you took my suggestion and ran with it, and I’m so relieved you weren’t let down! That younger sister was hilariously freaky, right? 🙂

      Like

      • ninibabexo April 13, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

        Yeah, she kind of annoyed me when she was being a brat towards Annabel but I was so sad it ended the way it did 😦

        Like

  2. boazconstrictor April 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    Very sad 😦

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Scary MoVie (“My God, They Make Movies This Bad?”) | Boaz's Movie Obsession - April 23, 2013

    […] me laugh with plenty of its silly moments. This one spoofed not only Paranormal Activity but also Mama, The Evil Dead, and even the highly-recommended Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and yet all of […]

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