Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Run-time: 100 minutes
IN SHORT: Yet another tame offering from Del Toro. You'll get some thrills from Mama but it's not scary enough to keep you up at night.
I may have to start ignoring films that bear the tagline 'presented by Guillermo Del Toro'. When I think of Del Toro, I get the mesmerising Pan's Labyrinth, the haunting Devil's Backbone and The Orphanage. Bland, uninspiring pap like Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and Julia's Eyes, I try to forget as they harm Del Toro's reputation. He needs to get behind the director's chair himself and stop attaching his name to every script. Mama is another horror movie 'brought to you by Guillermo Del Toro' and whilst it's not a bad film, it ends up being another disappointment.
Annabel (Chastain) and Lucas' (Coster-Waldau, or Jaime Lannister in GOT) easy-going lives are changed when they take in Lucas' two estranged nieces. After a fatal car crash, the girls had been presumed dead. They're eventually found by a search team. After raising themselves alone in a remote cabin for five years, the girls have become feral and non-communicative, their behaviour is almost animal-like. Whilst in Annabel and Lucas' care, the couple experience strange, unexplainable goings on. These events seem linked to 'Mama', an imaginary person that the girls talk to and play with. But just how imaginary is 'Mama'?
|The girls are found holed up in a remote log cabin. They survived by eating wild cherries.|
Don't get me wrong, there's a couple of scary scenes in the film. Most of them are found in the first hour as Annabel tries to ascertain just who or what the girls are communicating with at night. The director cleverly hides 'Mama' by framing the spirit off camera or out of focus when a character doesn't have their glasses on. The scares in Mama are more jumpy than disturbing so it's not a film experience that's likely to stay with you. 'Mama' reminded me of the Dementor's in Harry Potter so she didn't really scare me that much. Maybe if Annabel had used a simple patronus spell everything would've been okay?
Performance-wise, Jessica Chastain doesn't have to do an awful lot besides creep around and look a little scared. Her character isn't very likeable, which is a pretty big problem. Annabel is a bassist in a punk-rock band, which gives the writer's an excuse to make her moody and non-maternal. The two little girls are cute as button's though and deliver more memorable performances. The film should've told events through their eyes, instead of Annabel's. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has a disappointingly scant role and spends most of his time in hospital after a fall. Apart from making the decision to adopt the girls, his character has zero affect upon the plot.
|Chastain is okay but her character just isn't interesting enough to lead the film.|