Mama
Mama is another one of those copious horror films that had a huge amount of hype built and then became a letdown. This isn't a film that drew a lot of attention for no reason, either; it had that attention because Guillermo Del Toro signed on to produce the film and Jessica Chastain signed on as the lead actress. The problems with the film, at least the two major conundrums the supernatural horror had, were its failure to act on the built up tension it provoked and uninspired camera angles that did nothing to increase the mood or setting of the film.

Mama starts off with a man named Jeffrey Desange killing off his wife and taking his daughters with him. Driving like a lunatic down the highway, his car slides off the road and crashes. They take refuge in an abandoned cabin in the middle of the woods, where he plans to do a murder-suicide. An angry spirit, Mama, prevents that, and then takes the kids under her wings. Years later, the kids are found feral, and Jeffrey's identical twin brother Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel take the girls into custody over the great-aunt Jean Podolski. Under the supervision of Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss, Annabel and Lucas and the girls move into a house under the guidance of the hospital where Dreyfuss will have access to them. Mama moves in with them unbeknownst to all parties, and then hauntings and scares and the search for the truth begins. 

My first problem with the movie is that motive behind Jeffrey's killing of his wife was hidden behind all kinds of radio chatter. I would much rather hear it all then not at all. I would also like to say that, even though the kids got guidance from Mama, they never really seem bothered or traumatize by their relocation from civil life, to a life in an abandoned cabin, then straight back to modern society. They don't ask about their original mother one bit like they didn't even care for her in the first place. However, aside from those beginning moments, Mama was held together fairly well through a decent plot. It is a bit stereotypical in the sense that it's a haunting wherein an outside source (the doctor) attempts to find out the truth behind Mama. I didn't really appreciate that. 

The weakest link in the film was Waldau's Lucas, as his voice wasn't strong enough to coincide with both Chastain's Annabel and Kash's Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss. Perhaps it was a writing mishap as his lines were not exactly stellar and did not give much way for the actor to really show his character off. But, the rest of the cast did fairly well. I will give praise to the youngest cast member Isabelle Nélisse who played Lilly. She didn't speak English, and was given limited dialogue throughout the film. However, her tone of voice spoke enough for her character and she made a shocking, creepy little girl.


The film was not beautiful by far. I've seen some critics praise the film for its camera work but I cannot. Hallway shots for horror have been around for ages. Camera zooms in down a long creepy corridor, the audience expects something to happen, and it doesn't. There was a lot of potential in the film to break the tension with either jump scares or some kind of supernatural twist, but those don't really start happening until an hour - or maybe even more - into the film. The environments used were fairly bland, as well, from the house, to the forest. Forests always have potential to have some of the best camera shots in film, but director Andrés Muschietti failed on that level. 

For a supernatural horror film, I found myself laughing more than I did fearing the film. In order to get through the entire film, I had to talk myself through it and make fun of it here and there to keep myself entertained as Mama was not. There was maybe one segment where chills rolled down my spine. Mama was angry, the shot was down a hallway. Victoria and Lilly were staring at here, with Victoria pleading with Lilly to stop staring at the ghost as she was angry. Then, Mama twists and turns and runs after the girls. They run toward their room, Lilly locks Victoria out, and Victoria is left stranded in the hallway. However, tension breaks as Mama is no longer around the corner, but Annabel comes up the stairs to check on them. 

While there is not much in the way of plot structures being fallen, Mama suffers from intermediate camera work and scares that just are not scary. This once again makes me fall back to the independent horror film scene where films are interesting and unique and do not rely on cliche moments drawn from other films of the same nature. 

As a side note, Mama was remade in Tamil under the title of Mooch in 2015. It's a Bollywood film that seems like a horribly done horror-comedy. I think that would provide more entertainment than this film did. Below you can also find the original short-horror film Mama  was based off of. 


350
Brutal Resonance

Mama

5.5
"Mediocre"
Genre: Supernatural, Horror
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Writer: Andrés Muschietti, Bárbara Muschietti, Neil Cross
Star actors: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse, Daniel Kash
Mama is another one of those copious horror films that had a huge amount of hype built and then became a letdown. This isn't a film that drew a lot of attention for no reason, either; it had that attention because Guillermo Del Toro signed on to produce the film and Jessica Chastain signed on as the lead actress. The problems with the film, at least the two major conundrums the supernatural horror had, were its failure to act on the built up tension it provoked and uninspired camera angles that did nothing to increase the mood or setting of the film.

Mama starts off with a man named Jeffrey Desange killing off his wife and taking his daughters with him. Driving like a lunatic down the highway, his car slides off the road and crashes. They take refuge in an abandoned cabin in the middle of the woods, where he plans to do a murder-suicide. An angry spirit, Mama, prevents that, and then takes the kids under her wings. Years later, the kids are found feral, and Jeffrey's identical twin brother Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel take the girls into custody over the great-aunt Jean Podolski. Under the supervision of Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss, Annabel and Lucas and the girls move into a house under the guidance of the hospital where Dreyfuss will have access to them. Mama moves in with them unbeknownst to all parties, and then hauntings and scares and the search for the truth begins. 

My first problem with the movie is that motive behind Jeffrey's killing of his wife was hidden behind all kinds of radio chatter. I would much rather hear it all then not at all. I would also like to say that, even though the kids got guidance from Mama, they never really seem bothered or traumatize by their relocation from civil life, to a life in an abandoned cabin, then straight back to modern society. They don't ask about their original mother one bit like they didn't even care for her in the first place. However, aside from those beginning moments, Mama was held together fairly well through a decent plot. It is a bit stereotypical in the sense that it's a haunting wherein an outside source (the doctor) attempts to find out the truth behind Mama. I didn't really appreciate that. 

The weakest link in the film was Waldau's Lucas, as his voice wasn't strong enough to coincide with both Chastain's Annabel and Kash's Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss. Perhaps it was a writing mishap as his lines were not exactly stellar and did not give much way for the actor to really show his character off. But, the rest of the cast did fairly well. I will give praise to the youngest cast member Isabelle Nélisse who played Lilly. She didn't speak English, and was given limited dialogue throughout the film. However, her tone of voice spoke enough for her character and she made a shocking, creepy little girl.


The film was not beautiful by far. I've seen some critics praise the film for its camera work but I cannot. Hallway shots for horror have been around for ages. Camera zooms in down a long creepy corridor, the audience expects something to happen, and it doesn't. There was a lot of potential in the film to break the tension with either jump scares or some kind of supernatural twist, but those don't really start happening until an hour - or maybe even more - into the film. The environments used were fairly bland, as well, from the house, to the forest. Forests always have potential to have some of the best camera shots in film, but director Andrés Muschietti failed on that level. 

For a supernatural horror film, I found myself laughing more than I did fearing the film. In order to get through the entire film, I had to talk myself through it and make fun of it here and there to keep myself entertained as Mama was not. There was maybe one segment where chills rolled down my spine. Mama was angry, the shot was down a hallway. Victoria and Lilly were staring at here, with Victoria pleading with Lilly to stop staring at the ghost as she was angry. Then, Mama twists and turns and runs after the girls. They run toward their room, Lilly locks Victoria out, and Victoria is left stranded in the hallway. However, tension breaks as Mama is no longer around the corner, but Annabel comes up the stairs to check on them. 

While there is not much in the way of plot structures being fallen, Mama suffers from intermediate camera work and scares that just are not scary. This once again makes me fall back to the independent horror film scene where films are interesting and unique and do not rely on cliche moments drawn from other films of the same nature. 

As a side note, Mama was remade in Tamil under the title of Mooch in 2015. It's a Bollywood film that seems like a horribly done horror-comedy. I think that would provide more entertainment than this film did. Below you can also find the original short-horror film Mama  was based off of. 


Apr 07 2016

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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