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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 March 2014
Mama is directed by Andres Muschietti and written by Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti and Neil Cross. It stars Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet and Jane Moffat. Music is by Fernando Velazquez and cinematography by Antonio Riestra.

A Suicidal father abducts his two young daughters and takes them to a cabin out in the woods, his intention is to kill them. Before he can enact his plan he is killed by a strange entity, leaving the two girls alone in the cabin. Years later the girls are discovered in the cabin, completely feral and when any sense can finally be made out of them, they talk of being looked after by someone they call Mama; And it seems Mama has come back with them to civilisation...

Based on his own 2008 Argentinian short of the same name, Andres Muschietti expands the idea out to a full length feature film. With pretty decent results as well. Pic is a supernatural fairytale, thick on ethereal atmosphere and not over reliant on boo jumps or an adherence to blood and guts spilling just to put bums on seats. From the moment the girls are found, scampering around the wood cabin on all fours, clearly having survived on cherries for five years, there's an uneasy feel to the story. We already know there is a spirit involved as we half glimpsed "Mama" during the pre-credits sequence, what we need now is a good story and a healthy quota of frights and peril for Waldau and Chastain as they become surrogate parents to the troubled youngsters; And again, Mama mostly delivers all that is required of it for a good night in by the fire whilst perched on the edge of your seat.

Chastain is excellent as the punk rock chick reluctantly mothering two children before her time, the two girls, Charpentier and Nelisse, are also top draw, exuding the sadness and confusion that children of that age would obviously be feeling under these circumstances. While their reactions to what we ourselves can't see, via glances or hushed exchanges, has a creepiness to it that delivers a bucket load of dread. Muschietti's direction is very stylish, not only does he marshal his principal cast members with great skill, he shows some ingenuity in scene staging with one sequence particularly brilliant as Chastain does housework and the younger of the girls plays with Mama in the bedroom, we know it, even though we can only see the wee bairn. The soundtrack and score is suitably screechy, and the cinematography by Riestra has Gothic tints to it.

Why Mama is not a bona fide entry in the upper echelons of horror is mainly due to an annoying mistake that so many horror genre film makers make, namely showing too much of the spook. There is a point around the hour mark where "Mama" herself just stops being scary, a shame because the effects work isn't half bad. There's other, less itchy problems, such as Waldau being reduced to a bit player from the mid-point, a sub-plot involving Kash's Dr. Dreyfuss just feels like set-up material, while the ending is sure to be a bit too WTF for some. That said, this is good genre cinema for those who like The Woman in Black type of thrills and story telling. 7.5/10
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on 26 March 2013
Mama proves to be an enjoyable supernatural horror romp for those who have had enough of torture-porn, and prefer their scares splatter-free. In this regard, Mama reminded me of Insidious, another film that relies heavily on jump scares but not to the point where it feels overly-contrived.

The opening scene sets the scene nicely as the father is hastily gathering his two daughters together before driving away from their home; the reasons for which soon become apparent. After their car spins-out of control in the snow they take refuge in a seemingly abandoned shack. Five years later the girls are found - with no sign of the father - and returned to their uncle to care for them.

Above all, it is the two young actresses who are the stars of - and indeed make - the story. The chemistry between them is powerful, hinting at an invisible umbilical cord that ties the two together; mistrustful of everyone around them. Mama is also a profoundly sad tale at times; the reunion between uncle and nieces bordering on the harrowing. For me, that's what makes a particularly effective horror film, one which can also elicit feelings of pathos in the viewer.

The central plot device is finding out exactly who or what has been rearing the children for the past five years. We get a glimpse of 'Mama' in the opening scenes, though we are slowly drip-fed visual and narrative-based clues as to who she is. In that sense, it's almost like a game of peek-a-boo as the viewer only receives hints and insinuations - an open closet door, heavy footsteps, and a glorious scene where the younger child is playing with Mama in the bedroom without the viewer actually seeing her. Meanwhile the girls' psychiatrist also doubles as an investigator as he seeks to unravel the truth in this supernatural whodunnit.

In short, an effective creepy film which shows how far a mother will go to be reunited with her children. One of the better horror films i've seen in the past year and reassuring to see Guillermo del Toro put his name to something of this calibre.
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on 27 February 2013
The Wife and I saw this at the cinema last night - and we were still chatting about it this morning! It's a great bit of entertainment and for a modern ghost/horror movie it's head and shoulders above the majority of recent releases. As is always the thing with decent scary movies, all you need to do is see it with only scant prior knowledge and just let the story unfold before you as you watch. Guilermo Del Toro had a hand in this so creepiness is guaranteed and there are plenty of good scares, some nice visual efects and a few humourous/tongue in cheek moments too. A well thought out, thoroughly enjoyable yarn. Go on, have a butcher's!
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on 29 July 2014
A man kills several of his Business partners, his wife and then kidnaps his children.

After crashing his car, he and his children discover an old hut in the middle of the woods, and seek shelter.

When the man realises he has lost everything, he goes to kill his children, but an unseen force prevents this and the children are left on there own, until they are discovered much, much later.

But who has been nurturing them, and why do they keep climbing the furniture?...

Despite the great premise, and some wonderful mise en scene, it's pretty much more of the same old stuff here.

The film begins with a wonderful opening, proper spine tingling stuff, but after the children have moved in with Chastain, it loses its bottle and goes for the jump scares, and the old CGI ghost.

People get killed because the children look up into the corner of a room, and Chastain has Weird, but beautiful nightmares.

The ending is bizarre, but brave, and it appears that the writers have come up with a cracking opening, pretty cool ending, but just don't seem bothered by the bulk of the middle.

So its a little better than expected, but then, I wasn't expecting much.
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on 3 August 2015
I was'nt expecting much,the kids lost in the woods for five years seemed improbable,but once I started watching I was hooked.This is a really tense and scary film and I highly recommend it.If you enjoyed the Conjuring or Fragile you should enjoy this and add it to your collection.I dare not hold a hot drink in my hands while watching in case I spilt it ,there are so many jumpy moments.If you dont like horrors or are easily scared dont watch this.
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Two young sisters 'Victoria' and 'Lily' are seemingly left to fend for themselves
in a remote cabin their Father had found before being mysteriously killed.
With Both of their parents lost, are the children really alone ?
Five years pass, the Children are discovered living seemingly abandoned.
Their Fathers Brother 'Luke' wants to care for the girls with his wife 'Annabel'
however the Children are all but wild and need psychiatric help as well as
loving parental figures.
What the Children had called 'Mama' down the years still wants to tuck them in
at night.
'Mama' is extremely possessive of the Children and becomes extremely jealous
if somebody else gives them attention.
The film has a genuine 'Chill-Factor' which grows in intensity throughout the film
as visual images become seriously more frequent.
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on 5 May 2013
The film starts out as a mystery. Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) crashes his car with his two daughters inside. They find refuge in an abandoned cabin. As Jeffrey prepares to murder his daughters we see an entity grab him.

Five years later his brother (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is still searching for him. The searchers come across the now feral daughters (Megan Charpentier aka "The Red Queen", Isabelle Nélisse) who are reunited with their uncle and his goth rocker tattooed girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain). How did they survive for five years in the wild? The older girl tells a story about "Mama" who protected them and provided for them.

The acting in this film was superior to most "B" horror films. The child actors did an excellent job. The special effects were decent. The scare factor was also fairly good and I found more chilling than the Paranormal series. Best seen in the dark with screaming tween girls.

Parental Guide: 1 f-bomb (Why did they do that?) No sex or nudity. 4 1/2 stars.
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on 13 March 2014
This film is really good and has a great story and is really creepy in places I enjoyed the majority of this film and I was only disappointed by what I though was a poor finale, the film itself has a great atmosphere and a good cast, worth a watch for any horror fan, maybe I am being harsh over the ending but I feel it just ruined it for me.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 September 2015
I was quite favourably surprised by this 2013 Spanish-Canadian film, officially presented as horror. It is an original, clever and quite atmospheric thing. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

The film begins in 2008, at the worst moment of financial crisis, with a distraught stockbroker Jeffrey D'Asange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) driving on a snowy road, with his children, three-year-old Victoria and one-year-old Lilly, in the backseat. They will ultimately arrive to an isolated, abandoned cabin in the woods - where very quickly it will become apparent, that SOMETHING already made this place it's den earlier... I will say nothing more about the story.

This is a highly original film with some ideas which I never saw adapted to the screen. Guillermo del Toro produced with film and his influence is visible here, as you will probably recognise some elements from "Pan's Labyrinth" (which he directed) and "Orphanage" (which he produced). I would say that this film is more or less on the same level as "Orphanage" but somehow inferior to "Pan' Labyrinth". Also, as both those previous films, this is definitely a quite dark opus.

Although officially a horror, this film quickly stops being scary (albeit it is definitely creepy until the end) and evolves into a psychological thriller with supernatural elements. As you will discover in the first minutes, there is without question a supernatural, dangerous entity in this film - but it is definitely NOT your standard issue monster from American straight to DVD Bminus movies. There is a deep conflict of interests here between human and not-really-human protagonists in "Mama" - and there is also the question of terrible, heart-breaking choices. This film didn't really scare me, but it kept me interested, tense and guessing how-the-heck-will-all-it-end until the very last seconds. The fact that fate of two little girls is the main object of the whole conflict makes the whole thing even more dramatic.

Grown up actors (Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) did a honest job, but the film reposes in great part on the amazing performance of child actresses, Megan Charpentier (Victoria), who was 12 at that time and Isabelle Nelisse, who I think was not older than 7. The director managed to guide those two kids in an absolutely incredible way! Those two kids really will blow your mind!

Bottom line, this is very honest, very watchable film, more psychological thriller with supernatural elements, than a real horror, but most certainly a very original thing. A recommended viewing! ENJOY!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 December 2013
After a harrowing opening that leaves two young girls lost in the woods with an unknown entity. They're uncle Lucas Desange (Coster-Waldau) , whose hope has kept him looking ever since, spending every penny he had. Finally , 5 years on, they find them. However living in the wild they have grown detached from humanity & unknown to them, some kind of entity has been mothering them, keeping them alive & grown very attached in an unhealthy manner. As they are about to find out, something has followed them and is lurking in the shadows & isn't willing to give these girls up without a fight.

Overall, while the structure of Mama is one that is very familiar in terms of horror tales and thus somewhat cliche, it is none the less a compelling watch. The harrowing tale of the sisters predicament that brought them to this point, and the slow unveiling under both psychiatric treatment & under the care of Lucas & his girlfriend Annabel in a home paid for by the clinic, as these wild girls are slowly tamed back to humanity... but a sinister force fights for they're affections. Both combined well to make for a really creepy tale with some subtle scares, and ones that make you jump. As in the background, uncovering the truth to this Mama through the research of Dr. Dreyfuss & nightmares, makes for an intriguing discovery. One that is certainly bittersweet, as the tale of Mama is a very sad one that will tug at heartstrings, but her actions counter balance it to an uneasy extent.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) plays dual roles, as the murderous father Jeffery & assumably a twin brother as Lucas. His opening scenes as the emotionally compromised Jeffery was excellent, while for the rest of the film he took more of a back seat role as the loving & grounded Lucas. As Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) steps in as the tattooed goth bass player, rock chick, in a band, Lucas's girlfriend Annabel. Who reluctantly takes on the role of mother due to her deep love for him , when Lucas is hospitalized. She was very good as the makeshift mum, who has to take on the responsibility of these two children, and her slow bonding with them felt very natural. During this is when all the really creepy stuff happens, and along with excellent performances from young cast members Megan Charpentier (Resident Evil: Retribution) as the eldest Victoria, whose the more talkative & less susceptible to Mama as she has more life experience to know what's what. Her fear of what Mama will do & her torn loyalties, made for some gripping tense scenes with Chastain & under hypnotherapy with Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash -Aliens). While Isabelle Nélisse (on the DVD cover) as the younger & more susceptible Lilly, didn't say much, but her physically strong bond with Mama was creepy & heart tugging at times, considering the loss both suffered.

In conclusion, structurally Mama is a routine horror flick, but thanks to it's creepy atmosphere, scary CGI, compelling story & strong performances from the child stars alongside the adults, makes it anything but routine. Experienced horror fans will find it hard to be out right scared, but never the less unsettling throughout. Contains mild language , violence & disturbing scenes. Recommended.
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