Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Movies in Review: Mama

This review contains spoilers
Having watched Del Toro's projects before, I knew that there would be his ability to combine humanistic storytelling with "smart" horror. What is smart horror you ask? (Besides opposite of dumb horror) I consider smart horror that to which doesn't depend on the bells and whistles of generic Hollywood mass produced crap. The only thing I didn't like entirely was the ending, while it was unique, it was a little disappointing to me. I would recommend this movie to individuals that also liked Insidious (2010). Which was another "smart horror" (although I'm worried because they are making an Insidious 2).
Mama has Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) as an edgy couple. Both artsy, he sketches pictures, she plays base and is in a band. It was interesting seeing Jessica's character with short black hair, when she has beautiful long red hair in real-life.  Our introduction of Annabel (Jessica Chastain) is of her in the bathroom alone reading a negative pregnancy test. She expresses her gratitude and excitement before joining up with her boyfriend. I think this is a glimpse toward how they do not particularly want children (of their own), or at least she doesn't (more along the lines that she doesn't want to mess them up).
 Nikolaj portrays two twin brothers, Luke and Jefferey. The movie opens with Jefferey retrieving his two very young daughters. It is evident that he is in distress (of the mind) and they set-out on the road where soon they are in an accident off of the side of the road and deep into wooded territory. They survived the crash and set out to find shelter they discover a practically untouched home in the middle of the woods. Once inside the father, distraught and delusional, starts to take a very drastic measure when something makes quick work of his mortality and disposal. The girls are seemingly left to fend for themselves - or are they?
With the father and his two daughters missing, his twin brother never gives up on their discovery. 
Having survived the couple years before their discovery in the woods, without a sane adult figure, left the girls live nearly like animals. Now rescued, they're taken to an institution and are placed under the care of pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Dryfuss (Daniel Kash). When Uncle Luke finally is able to take his nieces to their new home with his girlfriend Annabel, they get more than they bargained for. Luke discovers his nieces weren't the only ones that had been brought to their home. 
When "cool Uncle Luke" unknowingly discovers Mama, he ends up in the hospital leaving Annabel and the girls to fend for themselves. Annabel struggles in the beginning, but I think the mystery of Mama unleashes her own maternal instincts and the need to protect the girls. The girls psychiatrist withholds important information for his own selfish reasons and when he sets out to find some proof only leads to his demise.  With Dr. Dryfuss out of the picture Annabel seizes an opportunity to utilize the Dr's files to learn more about the case. What she discovers coordinates with not only past hospital records for the individual now known as Mama, but that the eldest girl has expressed the same story as well as Annabel's dream of the past (before she knows what she had dreamed about).
However, Mama gets jealous when Annabel starts to form relationships with the girls. Meanwhile Luke, while still in the hospital gets an unexpected visitor that gives him a message he can't ignore. He skips out to do his own investigating into the message he receives. While angered Mama starts to act-out at their house and is semi-attacked by the twisted spirit leaving her unconscious. When she awakens, the girls are nowhere to be found. Knowing, she sets out to where it all began where she runs into her boyfriend, the girl's Uncle Luke. Together, the continue into the wooded area to the home in the middle of the woods. With no luck in finding his nieces within the abandoned house, outside they discover the girls are with Mama on a cliff that is crucial to Mama's storyline.
It becomes clear that Mama wants the girls for herself and starts to lead the girls out toward the edge of the cliff. The eldest girl is reluctant to go, while the youngest is loyal and unconditionally trusting of Mama. While Luke, using himself as a shield to protect the sudo-family, Mama again renders him unconscious leaving Annabel to defend the girls. With intense determination she holds on and manages to reclaim the eldest niece. I totally didn't see the ending, but it was climactic. 
It is rare these days, maybe from Hollywood's desensitizing horror, that I actually jump from the suspense or scare. Mama had me jumping a few times and both my boyfriend and I enjoyed this movie and would easily watch it again. So, until next time or the next... dream ~ K.E.Nowinsky