First off, start here and watch this:
Okay. So Guillermo del Toro saw this, told the writer/director Andy Muschietti he’d produce it if he wanted to expand the short to a feature film. That short is extremely powerful—the mystery of it all is part of its charm. Expanding something like this tends to cause them to lose some of their power.
But not a whole lot. This isn’t a flawless film, but it’s a pretty good one. It has a lot of fantastic moments, and the imagery is phenomenal—I suspect del Toro has something to do with that. A horror movie technique that gets me every time is when a character is facing forward, into the camera, and there’s something behind them that they don’t notice. The audience sees it, but the character is oblivious. There’s a lot of that in this movie and it freaks me out. Mama herself is played by Javier Botet who has Marfan syndrome, which means he’s very tall with very long fingers and abnormal joint flexibility. The only CGI for Mama is her hair. There are some moment when she’s just hair chasing people around—that sounds silly but this image is disturbing as shit.
The dreamy Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was in this flick, and at one point he falls down a flight of stairs. All I could think that this was some kind of just desserts for pushing Bran out that window…
Mama’s plot sort of wanders away from itself, and there are some elements of the story that are pretty repetitive. I didn’t see the end coming. I didn’t think the movie would go there, and there it went. I give PG-13 horror movies a bad rap a lot of the time (often with good reason) but Mama proves that they can still be frightening without an R. The film reminded me a lot of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark which I liked a lot better than most everyone else did.
Dread Central does a really nice review of the movie, and I agree with a lot of what they had to say. I’m sure having a hard time finding good images for this movie…they all show Mama in direct light and don’t capture a lot of the creeping and lurking that so freaked me out.