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  • Mama
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on January 18, 2013
Good acting, a monster that I don't see too little, good effects (even if it is all just CGI) and a story I can swallow...we have a winner! This movie is nothing epic nor did it have the best scares I've seen in a while, but it's a horror movie that "works."

First time feature director Andrés Muschietti (writer/director of the short film Mamá) does a solid job with atmosphere and "creepy." The story gets moving when two orphaned girls are discovered in an abandoned cabin in the woods after five years somehow surviving on their own (now they're about 9 and 7 years old-ish). Their eyes are cold and scared yet somehow predatory, their hair and skin far beyond wildly filthy, and their movement is so unnatural that it reminds me more of a Silent Hill monster than an animal. More disturbing was the degeneration of their oral skills with the exception of whispering "mama."

Much to my surprise, the maternal poltergeist Mama was not a kept mystery. Mama, her appearance, what she's capable of and her relationship with the girls are all presented to us right away. So when the feral Victoria (Megan Charpentier; Resident Evil: Retribution, Red Riding Hood, Jennifer's Body) and Lilly are taken in by uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain), the movie doesn't rely on us wondering when Mama will pop up and reign terror on the new foster parents. Instead we watch the girls maintain a secret relationship with Mama while remaining emotionally distant from Lucas and Annabel.

But once their child psychologist and the new parents catch on to Mama's presence, simply a psychological manifestation or even a home invader by their perception, Mama feels threatened. And once the girls begin to open up to the doctor or feel affection for their new parents, Mama gets pissed! So we find ourselves not only nervous when we're "normally" nervous in these movies (e.g., walking in dark halls, opening the ajar closet door, looking over your shoulder to see what the girls are looking at), but we're also nervous when things wouldn't normally be unnerving...like when we see Annabel desperately hugging a thrashing Lilly, who starts to find the embrace comforting...I wonder if Mama is watching.

What's interesting is how this movie has such a simple story with one simple revelation toward its end, no red herrings and no real surprises--yet, it really works. I thought they had some trouble making the finale at the end come together, actually I thought it was too drawn out and a bit weak, but overall I was VERY pleased with this movie.

We start out feeling edgy about the girls, and as they normalize we start feeling edgy about Mama (Javier Botet; creature actor of all three [REC] films). And Mama is worth feeling edgy about. She looks quite contorted, distorted and disturbing, moves like a bipedal yet quadriplegic demon on meth, and manifests an aura of decay. I felt effectively continuously worried about what this apparition was going to do next, and the pace of the movie never disappoints.

I feel like we've been trained to find piss poor acting to be totally acceptable when it comes to horror. But Mama's cast features nothing but competency and a few pleasant surprises. Of course, no one should be shocked that Jessica Chastain pulled off the stand-offish girlfriend turned hesitant parent. But what about young Megan Charpentier? As the reserved older sister Victoria and her stone cold portrayal of The Red Queen in the latest Resident Evil installment she has all the makings of both one of the youngest Scream Queens ever, but also a talented young actress!

This movie was a pleasure with good characters, a monster that I don't see too little, good effects (even if it is all just CGI) and a story I can swallow. I look forward to watching this with an easily scared date on my couch in the dark. ;)
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on April 26, 2013
Before I purchased this movie, I read a number of critic reviews and found them to be extremely mixed. Many critics liked the film; many disliked it. All called it derivative.

I can't say I agree. I really enjoyed this little creeper of a film! It may not be the best horror film in the whole wild world, but it certainly scared the crap out of me and my girlfriend. That's not bad for a PG-13 movie!

The story goes that a father goes on a murderous rampage, then kills his estranged wife and naps his two daughters. He drives off at crazy speeds and spins off the road. Surviving the accident, he wanders with his daughters through a cold, isolated woods until he discovers a seemingly unused cabin.

Flash forward five years. The kids' uncle has been looking for them all these years, and his investigators find them still living in the cabin; daddy is nowhere to be found. How the heck did those two little feral girls survive all that time on their own?

Or WERE they on their own?

This movie wasn't exactly subtle. It wasn't as if I couldn't foresee many of the plot twists, but it still scared the snot out of me. No tiny feat that! It reminds me of that other little horror gem Darkness Falls. Not a big movie. Not a perfect movie. But a damned good movie.

I highly recommend this flawed but thrilling film!
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on May 20, 2013
I'm a unique horror movie watcher: I'm utterly terrified/disgusted by gore and gratuitous violence, but I don't mind a good dose of morbidity and twisted metal states. This movie was a perfect balance because it had the quick cuts and jumps to get you gasping, but there was no gore or useless chainsaws. The story was morbid but plausible (who doesn't love a 19th century insane asylum ghost?) and the added unsettling concept of two little girls being raised in the words for five years without human contact, and how twisted that simply makes them, ghost aside, was great.

Good acting, great combination of jumping scares and a legitimately terrifying ghost in Mama; she was just my sort of horrifying: tattered shroud, distorted features, HAUNTED eyes, nightmarish voice. I'd suggest you watch this in a heartbeat. Definitely a nice surprise after a lot of mediocre horror flicks.
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on January 19, 2013
Mama is a good semi-creepy horror movie about two young children who spend five years alone in the woods and are later found and adopted by their uncle (the Kingslayer actor from Game of Thrones) and his wife (the always great Jessica Chastain in full goth mode, trading in her trademark red hair for black and sporting tattoos). Of course, something the children call "Mama" comes home with them and thus the horror begins. Maybe a little too much CGI used, but most of it looked okay. All in all, this is a well made ghost story that packs a few scares and has good acting throughout.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 23, 2013
You might be wondering what acclaimed actress Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty") is doing in a goofy-named horror flick. She's actually in good company with award winning stars like Nicole Kidman ("The Others") and Naomi Watts ("The Ring" 1 & 2) to name a couple. Here Chastain plays Annabel, a Suzi Quatro-like bassist in a punk rock band, complete with short dark hair and tatted up arms. She is the main squeeze of Lucas, a starving artist type played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, perhaps best known as the incestuous prince on "Game of Thrones."

The story begins with the twin brother of Lucas going on a killing rampage that includes fellow workers and his wife. He takes his 2 young daughters out into the country with similar intent. Before he can commit the deed a mysterious apparition intervenes. Five years later Lucas is still trying to find out what happened to his brother and nieces.

Ultimately found, the girls have somehow managed to survive but are little more than wild animals. Director Andres Muschietti manages to provide enough suspense to keep viewers on the edge on their seats using quick cuts and lighting. At the same time, he also resorts to the usual "gotcha" moments complete with a jolting sound effect.

Annabel is the main focus in the story however as the girlfriend who reluctantly has to take over child care duties after Lucas is hospitalized thanks to an induced fall down a flight of stairs. Chastain is excellent in the role and proves her dramatic range. "Mama" is an above average horror film that relies on suspense rather than gore for chilling effects. For me the ghostly presence's transformation to a CGI manifestation in the final act was unnecessary and changes the tone of the film somewhat. Still this is a pretty scary ghost story and worth a look.
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on April 24, 2013
Really good movie. Reminds me a lot of the film The Woman In Black with Daniel Radcliffe. Mama is not a film i would consider "Scary" , but be mindful that, Mama does have its moments. I really admired and appreciated the pace of this film because so often horror films are really fast paced, that sometimes you can miss a key element or important plot point of the film. At 100 minutes I was expecting a quick,predictable movie. I am glad to say that is not the case with Mama. This is one of those RARE films that second after second, I was anxiously awaiting what was going to happen next. And THAT my friends, is a good thing. Jessica Chastain (being one of the better known stars of this movie) did a really great job as Annabel and the two young girls in the film, Lily and Victoria (Not known what their real names are) are absolutely splendid in Mama. The remaining supporting cast all did exceptionally well. And The Direction of this film is one of the best I have seen in quite awhile. I will not spoil any details of the story line, but if you watch this movie you are in for a pleasant surprise.

4 Stars
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on November 4, 2014
This movie was awful! I had high expectations and thought it would be scary. It's not at all! It's SO horribly fake. "Mama" is a ridiculous fake looking character that is almost funny. The plot is very thin. I really thought it would be better because I absolutely loved Pan's Labyrinth. It was disappointing. Save your time and money and watch pretty much any other horror movie.
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on May 9, 2013
I never want to watch a horror movie 2 times in a row, but this movie I wanted to watch it again and again. It has a great story, and some pretty freaky moments. "Mama" is based off of CGI, and personally I didnt find her all that frightening.On the other hand the two little girls in this movie are very horrifying when they are making the adjustment back to reality. I suggest this movie strongly to those who love a thriller with a solid story.
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on July 6, 2013
At least a good original horror movie. I find it hard to review this without spoiling the movie. Here goes. Solid acting, good story and production values. Superb directing. I like how this movie creates some creepy scenes, but then reveals the truth behind them. I did have a slight problem with the premise of the story though. Why does mama have to be what she is? The movie is solid but I think they went the easy way and they could have made her into something else.

Regardless, If you are a horror fan, you will enjoy this movie.
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on April 27, 2013
And yes, it is a ghost story. Anyone who has been disappointed by recent entries in the genre that turned out to be psychological thrillers instead: here's your movie. Mama starts with the setup: a man (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who lost his shirt when the stock market crashed goes on a tear and leaves the scene of the crime with his two very young daughters in tow. I don't think I'm spoiling too much to say that he doesn't get very far before meeting a sticky end, but his daughters survive and over the ensuing five years go feral in a forgotten cabin in the woods. Meanwhile, their father's twin brother Luke (also Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has never stopped looking for them. When they are finally discovered he wants a prominent place in their lives. So does his former sister-in-law, a chilly blonde who sues to win custody and will likely win due to the fact that she is more successful financially than he is. The psychiatrist who has been treating the girls does not want to lose access to them and knows their aunt will take them across the country and out of his reach, so he makes a deal with Luke: he will set Luke and his girlfriend Annabelle (Jessica Chastain) up in the suburbs in exchange for his influencing the outcome of the custody trial. Annabelle is a bassist in a punk rock band and emphatically not interested in motherhood, but she loves Luke so she goes along with the plan. What almost nobody realizes is that the girls were not really alone in the forest, and they are not the only new guests in Luke and Annabelle's new home either. The main suspense is in finding out who or what Mama really is, but there is an added frisson when the viewer realizes (minor spoiler ahead) that the good doctor might know more than he initially let on as well. And there's a humdinger of an emotional wallop as the girls realize that they have to choose because they can't have both Mama and Annabelle in their lives. Mama won't allow it. The special effects are very well done and the acting is well above average for a horror flick. If you like ghost stories check it out.
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