Movie Review: Mama

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Fans of scary movies will enjoy the thrills to come with Mama, but if scary movies are not for you, then please do not watch this movie. Mama is about two little girls who are abandoned in the woods by their father after he murders their mother. Those who do not like scary movies will risk missing most of the flick because covered eyes are a guarantee. Director Andres Muschietti creates the mystery of “Mama”– a ghost — to pull audience members into the thriller, but those who are easily frightened should spend the money on a different movie or risk nightmares for weeks.

No one knows why their father left the girls alone, but that is the plot line that Muschetti builds right off the bat. Mama is the real fear factor of the movie. When viewers meet Mama, they are in for a fright. Her physical appearance makes it so that some of the wimpier audience members will not be able to stand looking at Mama. This is a bit ironic being that after their father dies, Mama takes on a motherly figure for the girls. She takes them under her wing and cares for them as if they were her own children. Along with fruits and berries, Mama has also taught the girls to eat moths, which is quite repulsive. This shows how animalistic Lily and Victoria have become after being under the custody of Mama.

How Mama arrived at the cabin just adds to the mystery of the movie. Nobody knows why Mama is living in that cabin or how long she has been there. Some viewers might be able to connect to Mama’s possessiveness and her being overly obsessive with “her” little girls.

While watching Mama, one would have never thought that Mama was played by a man . Actor Javier Botet, who is tall and lanky which made him perfect for the part of Mama, really captures Mama’s physical ugliness, with the help of special effects. Botet also captures Mama’s possessiveness and  obsession with Victoria and Lily. Special effects and makeup allow Botet to show Mama’s physical ugliness. Botet does a good job of acting like a ghost. His physique allows for it to seem as if he were floating all the time. Of course special effects help Botet out by making him move as fast as he does in the film.

The story progresses when Luke, the father’s twin, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, spends all of his money hiring private detectives to find Victoria and Lily. This brings a different angle to the movie. By having Luke spend so much money on detectives, the viewers see that the girls are loved. Hiring people to find loved ones is something people could connect to. Even though some might not experience this firsthand, there are always missing flyers going around, so this idea in the movie is realistic compared to the idea of a ghost. Coster-Waldau really takes on his character by showing how compassionate, patient and caring Luke is.

After five years, the detectives find a car which then leads them to the cabin and there he finds the girls. This is also when the audience gets its first scare. Victoria and Lily are no longer like humans. They act like animals by crawling everywhere and they are afraid of people. The way that Victoria appears might make the audience believe that she is possessed by something. The girls appear bloody and almost naked.

This again shows the type of mother that Mama is. The audience will feel some repulse towards the way the girls act, especially Lily. This part of the film is also unrealistic because there is no way for two little girls to survive on their own for so long without someone caring for them. The fact that Mama was “nurturing” for them is absurd because ghost are not real. It is also a bit unrealistic that coincidentally the detectives were able to find the girls. One might wonder why Mama does not kill the detectives if she is so protective of the girls.

Shortly after the girls are found Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain enters to play Annabel, a gothic rocker who feels she is not ready to take on the responsibility of the girls. She becomes one of the dominant characters. Chastain portrays the role well by letting the audience feel what she feels. Annabel is not fond of Victoria and Lily and feels that it is not Luke’s responsibility to care for them. One might sympathize with Annabel’s resentment towards the girls because Luke spent so much money on them.

Chastain’s acting makes it so one can easily see Annabel change throughout the movie. As the film goes along,Annabel realizes that Luke really loves Victoria and Lily and that is why he spent so much money finding them. The moviegoers will realize the heartwarming emotion Chastain projects even though it does not last long.

Nothing is that simple though. No fairytale ending here. Real hell breaks loose once Mama realizes the Annabel is starting to care for the girls. The movie then takes on a different twist by allowing the audience to feel emotion towards Victoria, Lily and Annabel. Victoria and Annabel are building a relationship, while Lily is left to feel sorry for. She does not want to be a part of Annabel’s world, rather she just wants to be with Mama. What Lily does not realize is that there is no future with Mama because she can not physically love her and care for her the way a mother should. In the end Lily’s stubbornness leads the movie to end with a shocking loss that one will have to hit theaters to experience

What makes this movie effective in the scary movie genre is all of the unexpected appearances Mama makes in the movie. Mama might not be a movie worth watching twice being that viewers would not be as scared the second time around, but if one likes a startle, they should definitely see it. Although ghosts are not real, one will have questions about whether or not Mama is tucking you in at night, so be prepared for a few nightmares.

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Movie Review: Mama