Jessica Chastain as Annabel
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Lucas
Megan Charpentier as Victoria
Isabelle Nelisse as Lilly
Daniel Kash as Dr. Dreyfuss
Javier Botet as Mama
In theaters January 18
Two little girls were abducted from their home by their disturbed father. After a car crash, they vanished into the wilderness; the father does not survive. Five years later, the girls were found in a dilapidated cabin in the woods. Miraculously, somehow, they have survived. But they are far from civilized. Their uncle who never gave up looking for them for all those years, wants to take them in much to the reluctance of his girlfriend. The girls begin to slowly adjust to their new life. As the days go by, the couple begins to come to the conclusion that maybe the girls did not come back from the cabin in the woods alone.
How they survived is a mystery that their therapist continues to try to unravel. The girls draw pictures of their ordeal and whisper of someone called Mama, but who is Mama? At first the therapist thinks that Mama is just a figment of the girls’ imagination, but as he begins to pick at the edges of this mystery he finds more than he bargained for.
Lucas (Coster-Waldau) and Annabel (Chastain) are a young hipster couple. He an illustrator and she a bassist in a rock band. Aside from Annabel, the only thing that has kept Lucas going, is the search for his nieces. Annabel is quite content with their lives as they are so when the girls are found she is reluctant to have to readjust. The girls are just as reluctant and fearful of the world. What Lucas and Annabel soon begin to realize is that they are not the only ones in the house. . Annabel faintly hears someone singing to the girls, she finds little toys that the girls swear they did not bring with them. An unseen force may be at work and keeping the girls’ company. Is it Mama?
I admit this is a difficult review to write because I really don’t want to give spoilers. This film is a psychological, supernatural drama and a good chilling scare, but while it does give you the willies, I think the construction of it was not quite balanced. Maybe because this was based on a short film also made by this film’s director Andres Muschietti. For the most part I found the story interesting because many plot points were unexpected and not the usual horror/thriller fare. In this era of horror rehashes and remakes, this is a refreshing, original story. But while there was ample room to expand the story more to prolong the suspense and create more of a frightening experience, it feels a little rushed. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of creepiness and frights here, possibly just enough to get under your skin. The way the youngest girl, Lilly, walks and grunts like an animal and hides herself in dark corners just makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. There are also a couple of good jump scares and great special effects. If you like eerie horror movies, you might want to put this on your watch list. While it’s not the most frightening film, Mama is good, scary, entertainment.