After a young couple take in their two nieces, they suspect that a supernatural spirit named Mama has latched onto their family.After a young couple take in their two nieces, they suspect that a supernatural spirit named Mama has latched onto their family.After a young couple take in their two nieces, they suspect that a supernatural spirit named Mama has latched onto their family.
Jessica Chastain Through the Years
'Mama' is absolutely great in the first half. It's genuinely unnerving with a good deal of suspense in the ambiance and build-ups, beautifully timed jolts and spine-tingling scares without resorting to cheap gratuitous gore to make their mark. There are many horror influences here but not in a cheap or predictable way, almost in an affectionate homage sort of way without it meaning to be. The titular character is an ominously creepy presence for most of the film, there is a real sense of danger lurking around the corner at any time. There is something very beautiful and poignant about the story-telling too, underneath the horror was something more than that with at first characters one could connect with and a vulnerable edge that comes over movingly.
On the most part, 'Mama' looks good. It's suitably unsettling but also beautifully shot with creepy and audacious production design and splendidly macabre and sometimes inventive visuals. For the first half of the film, a lot of thought went into the visual effects. The direction from Andy Muschietti shows successful attempts at taking risks rather than over-blowing things or taking it too safe, there is a lot of visual panache and a seeming appreciation for film not just of the horror genre but in general (some of it actually almost thriller-like).
Always look out for a good music score in film, being a musician and growing up in a musical family music is of great importance to me when watching film, television etc. 'Mama' has that, a lot of it is truly haunting while not being over-bearingly used.
Jessica Chastain may not convince as a punk rocker but gives a performance of intensity, steel and vulnerability. Have noticed that both here and in Muschietti's latest film 'IT' that he brings the best out of child-acting, something that has wildly varied in film throughout history. Because 'Mama' is one of the finer recent examples of child acting that is remarkably mature, poised, natural, affecting and sometimes frightening. All of which achieved by Isabelle Nelisse and particularly Megan Charpentier. Daniel Kash makes the most of his problematic nearly pointless plot-device role, while Mama herself is voiced to unnerving effect and even more so in action with Javier Botet.
Which is why it is such a pity that at the midway point 'Mama' feels like a different film altogether with a second half that brings things down. The scares become less frequent, the pace lacks its tautness, the dialogue gets confused and things start becoming predictable and contrived. Due to plot devices not properly followed through, things that don't add up sense-wise and some illogical character decisions.
The less frequent the scares got, Mama also diminished in the scare factor and was almost cartoonish and the effects start to lack finesse. Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau does his best but he is used terribly to the point that he is nearly completely wasted, despite his role in the story being important it's not treated as importantly as ought and fairly indifferently done in execution.
Faring least is the ending, which was unsatisfying on every level as has been said. It is just far too ridiculously outlandish, feels tacked on and it's also very vague in that it leaves questions without fully if at all answering them.
In conclusion, great first half but really disappoints in the second with a slap-in-the-face ending. A small 6/10, was very torn in what to give it having been so disappointed with its unevenness but its good elements and the first half were so well done that being too hard on it was a no-no. Bethany Cox
- Sep 24, 2017