It’d been a long long time since I had seen any horror movie that made me look under the bed before I slept. And after watching the very touted Sinister I was disappointed beyond limits and even thought the genre I was very fond of was lost amidst gory flicks which cashed in on cheap monster closets, gore and mirror-scares. The last one that truly ‘startled’ me was the very atmospheric Insidious. While the first act of Insidious promised some genuine scares the second half lost its steam as it became more of a search-rescue-ironic-ending. ‘Mama’ directed by Andrés Muschietti and produced by Guilermo Del Toro stands out of the usual crap you are served in the name of Horror.
Mama is sort of an expansion of the short of the same name directed by Mushietti in 2008. The movie starts of slowly and in typical Guillermo fashion, the prologue shown through innocent-yet-creepy drawings. You’ll be sucked into the narrative by the time the movie goes into the second act and from there on its a truly ghastly roller coaster ride. It resorts to some creepily chilling and very unsettling as well as disturbing visuals (I know I overdid it, adding all those terms in one sentence but believe me it is that good). It’s evident when you see your friend next to you clutching the cushion of her warm seat. And unlike the torture-porn genre of this generation, it doesn’t count on gore either. It has a very subtle story that drives the plot forward which I am not going to spoil for you. While it constantly provides you with near-perfect scares/jolts it also instills the right amount of emotions in you. I don’t know why but Mama reminded me a lot of ‘Bump‘. Its a big deal when the visuals of a movie stays with you, haunts you after you come outta the theater and Mama does that well.
The two little girls, Megan Charpentier & Isabelle Nélisse who played Victoria and Lisa respectively, displayed exceptional acting, I was dumbfounded as to how they acted so well. Two thumbs up for both of em. I was never impressed with Jessica Chastain, especially me having not watched ‘Zero Dark Thirty‘, I still had her very mediocre role from Lawless in mind. But she blows every one of those misconceptions and I cant wait to see ZDT now. Same goes for Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, having only seen in Game of Thrones as Jaime Lannister, he made his very short role outstanding.
There is this fine line between vaguely showing a monstrous abomination and showing alot of the same in a horror flick. While Paranormal Activity, the original, brought-forth chills of doing the former (and then killing the novel idea in its sequel) other movies like The Ring and The Grudge did the latter inducing fear. Mama‘s flaw is that in the first half it built that very eery feeling by showing us a vague creepy figure or glimpses of it then quickly shifted to showing a lot of the figure in the second half. And I have to admit the CGi wasn’t the best I’d seen. Though there was this very well-done dreaming sequence showing the first person view of the abomination in questions past. That’s what I call originality!
I am a hardcore horror genre fan and having watched an excess of horror flicks I thought I had it seen it all; every possible cliche, every likely scare-tactic but Mama broke that notion. Frankly, going for this one, I didn’t have my hopes high; I expected a mediocre movie with jolts and all the horror movie cliches you’d expect in one. Yes, it did have all those cliches though it worked well thanks to the wonderful cast and its terrifying supernatural entity. The movie is a winner when you expect something scary in a scene and it still manages to scare the bejesus outta you. In the end I was satiated with a wonderfully horrifying experience. Horror fans take note: This one you don’t wanna miss watching at the movies.