Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Mama (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Andrés Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau & Megan Charpentier
Writers: Andrés Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti & Neil Cross

It seems ever since Paranormal Activity, ghost movies have been a huge thing. With successes like Insidious and The Conjuring it seems like the ghost genre isn't going anywhere, anytime soon. Mama heads into a crowded genre and tries to differentiate itself by giving us a ghost thats painted in a few different shades.

At the heart of Mama is a story about motherhood and the bonds that can be formed even if parent and child are not biologically the same. Two little girls are found in a cabin, having gone feral after a terrible incident leaves them stranded in the woods. Adopted by their Uncle Lucas (Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Chastain), the two girls slowly learn to rejoin society, and yet there is a presence that seems desperate to reclaim the girls.

It's a movie with a heavier story than you would think from the horror genre, and thankfully Jessica Chastain and the girls do a great job in the respective roles. Nikolaj is also great as a very caring uncle but is sidelined for most the movie unfortunately. Honestly the movie is filled with some good acting it's just a shame that the script/editing really does a disservice to that work.

Script wise the movie while having a strong central core, seems to be undone by some lousy side stories. I think it's a testament to the core of the movie that things came out as well as they did, as the extra layers of conflict only add plot holes and bad character development. Events surrounding the girls Grandmother are pretty unbearable. It's not really the actresses fault, but everything her character does just screams out in stupidity.

On top of that the movie seems to be edited down to accommodate a shorter play time. Scenes that allow for a greater understanding of the bonds being formed seem left out. Instead things jump ahead and don't seem that realistic. It wouldn't surprise if a longer and more fulfilling movie could be made from the leftovers.

Lastly some of the special effects are bad and jolted myself out of the movie. When the ghost wasn't on screen, there was a great sense of dread and scares happened from just the fleeting shadows and noises, But when the eventual reveal was done, it was pretty bad.

Still even with the negatives the core of the movie is fantastic and when the final scene plays out, I really felt a great sadness. There is something refreshing in how the ghost is portrayed and the final end game. However I just can't shake the feeling that what amounts to a good film, could have been a great film if there was more there. Still for any ghost movie lovers out there, this is seriously worth a watch.

0.5 ghosts out of 1
Some of the plot holes really distract from the great core.
0.5 ghosts out of 1
Side stories really hurt the strong and emotional plot.
1 ghosts out of 1
Actors are great even if they are hurt by some bad script moments.
0.5 ghosts out of 1
There is some great scenes but the overall can be a little choppy.
0 ghosts out of 1
Some bad cgi and bad editing really hurt this film.

2.5 ghosts out of 5
This is really worth a watch for ghost movie fans, however it fail to be a great movie thanks to some really bad decisions.

1 comment:

  1. Not enough scares overall, but well acted and well written. I just hated the bummer ending.