As I was getting ready to write my review, I had this nagging feeling I needed to watch Mama again. Rarely do I watch a movie twice in such a short period of time, but I was drawn to give it another chance. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that I did.
Two little girls (Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse) stumble upon a cabin after a car wreck. Five years after their disappearance, they’re found and taken into custody by their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain). The two bring the children into their home and attempt to give them a normal life. As bizarre circumstances unfold, Annabel starts to get the feeling something sinister has accompanied the girls and is “protecting” them.
For the most part, director / writer Andrés Muschietti adheres to the saying “less is more.” We get quick and creepy glimpses of the supernatural entity. As the movie moves along, we are given longer and greater detailed glances at her. What looked very CGI the first time I took it in proved to be more convincing and practical at second look.
I found Mama full of great moments of genuine thrills and chills upon giving it a second chance. You’d think a horror movie you’ve seen before wouldn’t hold as much tension when watching it again, but that’s not the case with Mama. It had more of an effect on me the second time around.
Every actor in the movie is convincing in their role. Jessica Chastain transforms from a 1960s blond southern belle into a black-haired punk rocker incredibly well. The girls are absolutely phenomenal and their authentic reactions to the events occurring to them are noteworthy.
The audio and video for Mama will please consumers. A lot of the film is obviously in the dark. This doesn’t hinder the viewer from seeing everything they’re supposed to. The picture is clean and clear although it has a bleak color palette splashed with autumn tones every once in a while. The 5.1 surround sound will have you jumping out of your seat at every bang, sudden musical burst, and groan seeping out of the speakers.
There’s a good amount of bonus material provided for the Blu-ray release of Mama. Director / Co-writer Andrés Muschietti and Producer / Co-writer Barbara Muschietti contribute feature commentary. The original short film is featured with an introduction by Guillermo del Toro. Two featurettes entitled “Matriarchal Secrets: The Visual Effects of Mama” and “The Birth of Mama” are found. Deleted scenes are included as well.
Mama isn’t going to satisfy gore hounds with its “less is more” approach and lack of gore. However, gothic horror enthusiasts and those who love a good ghost story with substance will thoroughly enjoy this. It’s a creepy suspense-filled tale that you’ll find yourself wanting to watch multiple times.