Something stinks like rotten movie, and I’m pretty sure it’s not Nicholas Sparks’ newest atrocity. Perhaps the worst movie I’ve ever had the not-so privilege of reviewing, “Mama,” directed by newbie Andres Muschietti and rated PG-13, seems more suited as a campfire tale about feral kids, poor choices by Oscar nominees, and psychotic motherly love.
It’s just a shame I don’t know how to describe the sound of human retching because that’s basically the entire premise. Two little girls are left in the woods by their father, and that’s where a ghostly specter they call Mama steps in to “raise” them for five years. The kids are found and taken care of by their uncle (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend (Jessica Chastain), only too soon they realize that their spooky maternal figure follows them home. Inevitably, it doesn’t exactly sit well with Mama, and she raises hell for anyone close to the girls.
The plot itself just sounds like a B-rated movie you would find on the outer walls at Blockbuster (God rest its soul). I’m almost certain I saw a Lifetime movie scarier than this mess, and I spent most of the movie with my eyes glazed over.
Guillermo del Toro, the movie’s mostly spot-on producer, should be ashamed of the garbage I just saw. He discovered Muschietti’s short film of the same name a while back and thought it would be a great idea to give it stretch marks to make it into a feature-length film. He thought wrong—terribly wrong.
Guillermo Del Toro, undeniably has great vision for film with his fingerprint somewhere on movies like “The Hobbit,” “Hellboy,” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” I can see his reasoning for being so haunted by Muschietti’s short, and after watching it myself, I agree that is was a little unnerving. However, I think what makes it so potent is the fact that it’s only a couple minutes long.
I was rather disheartened by Chastain’s choice to accept this role. After all, she’s nominated for an Oscar this season for “Zero Dark Thirty,” but in “Mama,” she looks like a drowned Liza Minnelli.
The little girls’ characters in this movie were just basic and unimpressive, not to mention they were just…not cute. Or scary, for that matter. I guess a couple of ratty-haired kids constantly eating moths have little affect on me. They just didn’t seem natural scurrying around the room, finding solace under a bed in two seconds flat.
Muschietti shows his beast too early and far too often for Mama to be scary any more, especially by the end. The last 20 minutes or so were just laughable. And by the by, Mama wasn’t scary; she was just ugly. If it makes sense, she was ugly enough to be frightening for some. It wasn’t until after I saw the movie that I found out Mama was played by a man, in which case, the ugliness is justified.
“Insidious” set a new high for good ol’ fashion ghost stories, and unfortunately, “Mama” falls by the wayside. A shot in the movie I distinctly remember was Mama charging at the family—on hands and feet—down the hallway. It may not sound funny, but I was busting a gut. Granted, if it were happening to me in real life, then yes, I would be horrified.
It’s a shame that (for me, at least) horror movies have become something of a bore in many instances. There’s not much that legitimately scares me any more. I’ll definitely jump at the quick sight of a demon or its counterparts, but to really be frightened after leaving the theater? Hasn’t happened that badly since I saw “The Strangers,” after which I felt physically ill from a case of the scaredy cats.
This pile of a movie gets a good half chip out of five from me. I don’t see the artistic potential Del Toro could have used in it, and there was no prolific or profound meaning—just an hour and 40 minutes worth of horror clichés and recycled material. To me, it was all talk and absolutely no action. In the end, it’s a film you just don’t bring home to mama.