Don’t go crying to THIS Mama!

January 22nd, 2013 at 5:57 pm by under Uncategorized

CLICK HERE to watch the MAMA trailer!

Official poster for the film Mama.

Mama is the classic “scary movie”.  The backstory is that following a stock market crash, an employee shoots some coworkers grabs his kids and hits the road, landing at a distant cabin in the woods.  Intending to kill them and then himself, one thing leads to another and well, let’s just say it doesn’t quite work out that way.Five years hence, the girls are discovered (still in the cabin) and brought to the care of Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) before being awarded to their Uncle Lucas (Jeffrey Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his rock-star-wannabe girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain).

Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse) are far from ready to have the normal life their uncle envisions, and their cabin caregiver who has followed them home is far from ready to let them.  By the way, both girls are great little actresses.

After Lucas has an “accident” and Annabel is left to care for Victoria and Lilly, it is game on with Mama.  Some terrifying scares and creepy turns help propel the film to exactly what it set out to do… make you jump out of your seat!  (I thought I sprained my neck at one point!)

Dr. Dreyfuss periodically stops in to watch and chat with the melding family.  But Mama is on to him.  She shares her life story with Annabel through a terrifying first person dream sequence from her death in the 1800s.

There are a lot of things wrong with Mama, but also some things it gets right.  Let’s start with the “RIGHTS”.  Right:  Selecting Chastain for the role of Annabel.  It’s a far cry from the other, deeper roles she’s played (and been nominated for Oscars for!), but it also lets her stretch as an actress (mother figure, short black wig and arm sleeve of tattoos!).  Right: Mama herself. The CG + real actor = Scary!  Right:  Pacing of the scares tempered with the comedic comebacks.  The screenplay written by Neil Cross, and Andy and Barbara Muschietti (based on the Muschiettis’ short) brings just the right amount of bait-and-switch terror-inducing moments, while humanizing the characters and allowing the audience to laugh to release the anxiety after the jump.

How about the “WRONGS”?  Wrong:  Melodrama to the highest degree.  There are many horror film cliches (walking in the woods in the dark to an anxiety-inducing score, scary music, cabin in the woods, eerie bugs, creepy woman with a dead baby in a box, and on and on).  Wrong:  Continuity.  I felt so often there was none.  It’s daylight in the window over the shoulder of Annabel, a few steps and a turn and it’s nighttime.  When did this happen?  How long has it been?  Time seems non existent.   More than a few times I had to think to myself: are they kidding, right now?

And then there’s the ending.  Don’t worry.  I’m not going to spoil it.  But I will say this: I thought for sure Director Andy Muschietti was going to go with the expected ending, what the audience wants, what you are sure is going to happen.  But then…

THREE COOKIES

Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, some disturbing images, and thematic elements.

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