Guillermo del Toro latest offering Mama is a supernatural horror movie about a mothers love. When businessman Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) kills his wife he flees with his two small daughters Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse). When their father disappears the two little girls are left alone in a run down cabin deep in the woods, well nearly alone.
Five years later the children are found living of berries and insects, completely feral and obsessed with an invisible presence they call “Mama”. When a child psychiatrist takes an interest in the unusual case Victoria and Lilly are sent to live with their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his goth-rock-chick girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain).
While Annabel is struggling to come to terms with being a “mother” strange happenings around the home become more and more frequent. “Mama’ seems to have moved in with the girls, confusing Victoria and pulling the two sisters apart.
In 2008 Argentinean director Andrés Muschietti made a terrifying short about two girls trying to flee from their demonic mother. In Mama he expands the theme but sadly cannot hold the tension. It is the age-old problem of how much to show the viewer. While Muschietti does make his audience uneasy in the earlier parts of the movie, when they finally see Mama it all falls apart. The free floating, puppet like figure is too puppet-like to instil actual fear and the battle of the mum’s just feels to forced.
Jessica Chastain does lend a bit of gravitas to the Annabel, however she never does seem to really exude the rock-chick vibe. Overall all characters seem quite one dimensional, their relationships sallow and even the “heart-string” moments are a little to bland.
The much-hyped Mama is another horror film that just doesn’t quite pull it off. A few scary moments, a couple of creepy corridor shots and the odd paranormal activity and a few interesting ideas does not a good film make and even less one that warms a true horror fans heart.