Saturday, October 9, 2021

Mama

Movie Name:
Mama
Year of Release: 2013
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat, Morgan McGarry, David Fox
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Writer/Director Andy Muschietti and his sister, producer Barbara Muschietti, made a name for themselves initially with the short "Mama", which they then expanded to this feature, which turned out to be their feature debut. With the collaboration of Guillermo Del Toro as executive producer, the film premiered in 2013 to substantial commercial success, propelling their career to new heights, which eventually led them to the Stephen King adaptation of "It". "Mama" follows the story of two young sisters who find themselves in a precarious situation. Their father has a breakdown, following a particularly brutal financial collapse, and kidnaps them from their mother's house. While on the run they experience a car accident in the mountains. They manage to escape unarmed, and discover what seems to be an abandoned cabin in the woods. Their father is taken by some entity, who in turn begins feeding them. 5 years pass, and the girls have grown in the woods. They're finally discovered by a group of explorers hired by their uncle, who lives with Annabel, a rock musician. As their uncle eventually gets legal guardianship, and the girls move to his house, strange occurrences begin happening, something that the therapist assigned to them tries to solve and understand. When Lucas, their uncle, suffers a rather serious accident, Annabel has to become the caregiver to the girls, something that she never wanted to do. The girls however have another entity caring for them, who has plans of her own.
"Mama" has an interesting premise, where children who are left to their own devices, are protected by an entity who has an agenda of her own. For a while the ambiguity if that entity is an actual projection of the children's subconscious or is it instead a sinister ghost, keeps the story rather interesting. However as the narrative unfolds, and the entity's true nature reveals itself, there's a vague influence of Hideo Nakata's "Ringu" which was remade by Gore Verbinski's into "The Ring", in the sense that there's a tragic occurrence in the past that has triggered all these events taking place in the present. While the plot is unfolding, with the typical scares from a ghost story, the most interesting part of the narrative itself, is the fact that the lead matriarchal character, is very against type. Jessica Chastain tries to bring some dimension to this mother figure character, making her an emo rock musician, who has little patience with children and even less to the whole domestic aspect of a relationship. Though the reasons for her resistance to children are never truly clarified or expanded upon, it gels with how she and the children progressively bond. Sadly this part of the story is not as emphasized as it should, and the third act revolves around the understanding of what's taking place and explaining the supernatural aspect of the narrative. Overall the film has a lot of promise, even taking some cues from Guillermo Del Toro's "The Devil's Backbone", but ends up shortchanging character development for the obligatory scary/ghost sequences. Aside from Jessica Chastain's Annabel character, none of the supporting characters have much dimension to themselves. The cinematography from Antonio Riestra is impeccable, as is the score from Fernando Velazquez. While not a bad film, it's not necessarily a very memorable one, though this director has gone on to do some interesting films in the meantime. 

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