Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mama

By Sati. Thursday, February 7, 2013 , , , , , , ,
It would be hard for me to find a movie that was released recently that collapses on its ass as spectacularly as Mama does. The film is actually quite decent in its first hour, but its last 30 minutes are so incredibly fucking stupid you feel as if you were watching an exclusive glimpse into Tim Burton's mind if he was imagining what Corpse Bride would be like as a horror feature film...and then as if his visions crossed to Guillermo Del Toro being high during mother's day. It's fucking crazy and not in a good way.

Mama follows two little girls. When Lilly was only a baby and Victoria was about 4 or 5 years old (from the looks of it), their dad went insane, killed their mother, took them inside the car and started driving. The car crashed and the three of them found themselves in the middle of the woods. They stumbled upon the cabin (sounds familiar?). Just as daddy was about to shoot Victoria, something interrupted him, dragged him away and killed him, saving the girls.
5 years later we see that crazy dad's twin brother - Lucas (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) never stopped searching for his brother and the girls. He even took their dog to live with him (Mama scores some points from me because nothing bad happens to the dog, so imagine how low the score would be if the dog died). Lucas has a girlfriend - Annabel (Jessica Chastain, in yet another thankless role). One day he gets a call - the girls were found.

The problem is that the girls are feral - they behave like wild animals. They were on their own for 5 years and them coming back to the society will not be easy. Lucas and reluctant Annabel take them in, which requires them moving to new house. The psychologist who looks after the girls is worried - they keep mentioning the mysterious Mama. First he thinks she is just something they imagined. But then he becomes convinced Mama is a ghost...
The film starts off like your usual horror flick - there is some drama, freaky cabin and the promise of terrible CGI later on. Then we have pretty decent music playing over the opening credits - which consists, of course, of children drawings showing us how Lilly and Victoria survived in the woods. At first it was really good - Lucas and Annabel's efforts to help the girls were touching and the bond between the sisters was adorable (the way Lilly clung to Victoria all the time).

It was refreshing, in a way, how they tried to do something else here and made Anabel into the character that was tough to like - as the film progressed I warmed up to her and Chastain was doing whatever she could with the role (though I'm baffled as to why she took it in the first place). Waldau is a terrific actor so it's a shame he is so underused here as I would actually much preferred if the film just focused on him. Anabel was here because it appears to be some weird requirement in horror genre that you have to have scared female and have her love the kids in the end. It's like we are still living in middle ages.
The little girls were actually the ones who delivers the best work in the movie - especially Megan Charpentier as Victoria. The scenes between her and Anabel were quite moving and I also loved the scene where Anabel hugged Lilly until she calmed down. Too bad the ending kinda ruins the entire dynamic between these two and is yet another thing that reminds you of how poorly this movie is written.

There are few quite tense and suspenseful moments in the movie, when Anabel is wandering around the apartment. You just have a feeling something will happen. Unfortunately, Mama suffers from the same maladies that most contemporary horrors have - horribly bad CGI and overexposure to the horror's antagonist. There were literally two good horror movies in the last two years (excluding the Cabin in the Woods) - Insidious and Sinister. While Sinister suffers from those two diseases too but to much lesser extent, Insidious was brilliant because it only showed us glimpses of the monsters. The way Mama's monster looks is just laughable. At first it's creepy because we only see glimpses of her. But when we finally see all of her, even in quick moments - I don't think this can scare anyone. It's not even that the design is uninspired, it's that the CGI is so incredibly fucking terrible it looks like something you would make on your home computer. Mama is actually played by the real actor - Javier Botet - who delivered extremely creepy horror moment in REC. The problem is that they added so much bad CGI on him here and it looks like cartoon. And then of course there are distorted movements, Exorcist-style. Why are all the movie ghosts nowadays disfigured and moving like robo-spiders? Is this supposed to be scary?

The back story of the monster is 1. stupid 2. underdeveloped 3. makes no fucking sense. And don't even get me started on the ending. It was the worst horror movie ending I've seen in the last few years. Honestly, even Del Toro's previous misstep - Don't be Afraid of the Dark - had an ending that was better than this.  I guarantee you that you will laugh your ass off when you see what happens in the last 10 minutes of this movie. The only thing funnier would be if they showed us how Anabel and Lucas attempt to explain what happened to the police.
The film could have been really good - just because it is based on 3-minute long short film Del Toro loved and decided to produce feature film based on doesn't mean that the story had to suck. They had everything in place here and really all they had to do was come up with a good back story for Mama and they couldn't even do that. The script was written by 3 (!) writers including the director of the short and the feature film - Andrés Muschietti. It's baffling - for him himself to come up with such a ridiculous story that basically ruins two of his projects at the same time and for the other two not to do anything about it. Still even with such scattered mess of a script what really buries this movie is the horrible CGI.

Del Toro is really loosing his touch. While whenever he directs the results are good he should really be more careful with the crap he is promoting with his name. The only people who will enjoy this movie are fans of Chastain though she has one of the worst wigs I've seen here. That thing was actually scarier than the monster.

Mama (2013, 100 min)
Plot: Annabel and Lucas are faced with the challenge of raising his young nieces. The girls were almost killed by their father and after he was died they were left alone in the forest for 5 years.... but how alone were they?
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Writers: Neil Cross (screenplay), Andrés Muschietti (screenplay),Barbara Muschietti(screenplay)
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier


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16 comments:

  1. "Unfortunately, Mama suffers from the same maladies that most contemporary horrors have - horribly bad CGI and overexposure to the horror's antagonist"

    Truer words have never been spoken. I literally cheered when you mentioned "robo-spider" because that shit's played out, too.

    Filmmakers: Stop showing us the monster so much. And if you must show it, try not to make it so f--king stupid all the time. Less is more, guys. Unless we're talking obligatory nudity, of course.

    Really loved your review, Sati. Very cool.

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    1. It's really overplayed in the genre and it's not even that scary to begin with. It looked kinda cheesy a decade ago in The Ring, now it's just laughable.

      Haha there was no nudity here, which was a shame because then the film would at least have a shot at Tub Scene award by the year's end, there are literally no decent sex scenes in movies nowadays. So far it looks like the only win for Mama will be the worst CGI :P

      Thank you!

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  2. I agree that this movie could've been good. Really good, even. But, like most modern horror flicks, the ending just went completely off the rails.

    That scene when the two old guys found the girls was freaky as shit. And everything else... eh.

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    1. The script was so bad. It's like they didn't even put effort in it adapting it from the short they just chose whatever lazy ideas they had.

      It was kinda freaky but I had a feeling they added CGI to girls' movements because it looked fake :/

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  3. Nice review. I'll probably see this for Chastain, but I'll wait for the DVD.

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    1. Thank you! DVD is the way to go here for sure.

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  4. Overall I agree with you. It started out great and then falls apart. I was entertained during the first half though so I would give it more like a 50 using your scale. Nice review!

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    1. Thank you! Yeah the beginning was great but then it turned into cliche horror movie really fast.

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  5. LOL. It would be hard for me to find a single sentence that cuts right to the problem better than this one does. "It would be hard for me to find a movie that was released recently that collapses on its ass as spectacularly as Mama does." LOL

    I said the same thing. So true. This one really really flew off the rails. Nice review, Sati, and as always fun to read you ripping into stuff ;)

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    1. Thank you! I was really disappointed there are so few good horror movies out there that were released recently and Del Toro is really losing credibility promoting stuff like this one.

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  6. It's a shame this movie wasn't better. The basic premise sounds interesting, and it looks like parts of it are wonderfully atmospheric. Great review!

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    1. Yeah there were some good moments but the main monster looked so awful there was no way this could have been scary. Thank you!

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  7. Amen, I agree with you. This film had so much potential and they just shit all over it. It would've made a better thriller than a PG13 horror movie. I too, was really bummed that Nikolaj Caster-Waldau wasn't in it more. He's the reason I went to see it in the first place. I thought the ending was pretty ballsy, but the whole thing just falls short.

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    1. I thought the idea behind the ending was good but it was executed in a way that really made me laugh. Nikolaj truly deserves better.

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  8. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is dreamy but I have zero interest in seeing this. I hate it when filmmakers had such a promising buildup but once the monsters actually show up, it's like 'what the...??!' It just ruins the whole thing! Stephen King's IT was the same way as well.

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    1. Yeah, even he cannot save this garbage :) Not even one lousy shirtless scene too :P

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