Directed by: Andres Muschietti
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: January 18, 2013
Synopsis: Annabel and Lucas are faced with the challenge of raising his young nieces that were left alone in the forest for 5 years…. but how alone were they? (Via IMDB)
Brian: The first two months of every year are exciting for movie fans because of awards season, with the Golden Globes, and the SAG Awards, and the Academy Awards, but they’re typically anything but exciting when it comes to the movies themselves. January to April is generally known as a dumping ground for movie studios, especially January and February, when only rarely do we get films of high quality. This winter/spring, however, looks stronger than recent years, with such upcoming promising movies as Warm Bodies, Beautiful Creatures, Jack the Giant Killer, and Oz the Great and Powerful, and I’m pleased to say that the first film I saw of 2013 was an absolute blast. Mama, a super creepy horror film with an unusually strong protagonist, played by Oscar-nominee Jessica Chastain, is well worth seeing.
Shaunta: I really enjoyed Mama, too. I always love a movie that’s scary without being gratuitously gory or violent. This one was more psychologically scary. In particular, one of the little girls in the cast was incredible. My number one creepiest movie kid is Malachi from Children of the Corn, and Lilly from Mama was right up there. Just look at her in the poster over there. I thought the choice of not choosing a typically angelic child to play Lilly was fantastic. She was just a normal-looking kid whose creep factor was turned up to max power. By the end of the movie, I was ready and accepting of whatever her fate might be.
Brian: Shaunta knows watching horror films with me is not the most pleasant experience (see our dual review of Sinister), and at one point during Mama, she actually turned to me and begged me to stop screaming and embarrassing myself. I do this thing when I jump in a horror movie. I don’t just jump, and I don’t really scream: I yell “Oooooh!” I did that a lot in Mama. Probably fifteen times, at least. I found it a very effective horror film, definitely the scariest PG-13 movie I’ve seen since Insidious. Guillermo Del Toro, who executive produced, should be proud to have his name on it. The story is eerie from the start, and the performances are extremely convincing. I’m now a Jessica Chastain super-fan; in my mind, she can do no wrong. Her character in this film wants nothing to do with being a mom, and that made for an interesting character arc. I liked the pacing of the movie, the fun gimmicks on the screen (like when one of the two girls is scene floating through her bedroom for a brief second). My only real complaint is that the film takes a little too long to wrap up in the final ten minutes, as it shows us way too much of the ghost and borders on the goofy. But overall I had a lot of fun at Mama. If you like horror, I highly recommend it!
Shaunta: The only way to watch a scary movie is sitting behind Brian Rowe and my husband. Between Brian grabbing at me in terror and Kevin trying to scare me half to death, I was a mess by the end of the movie! Jessica Chastain was incredible. One of the best scary-movie characters I’ve ever seen, and when you combine that with the Lilly creepiness, the casting of this movie was spot on. This movie did sort of reuse some horror tropes you’ve seen before. Like using moths to indicate the ghost is around and creepy contortionist moves. But the few places where it lacked originality were more than made up for with incredible characters and a truly scary story. Get to a theater for this one if you can. Half the fun was the entire theater screaming on cue, then doing that embarrassed half-laugh. (Or maybe they were just laughing at Brian? It’s possible!)