Wow. Just finished Guillermo Del Toro’s Mama and I have many feels about it. For one, it’s a really interesting, beautifully shot, complex movie. Sure it’s scary, with all the jumps and startles of any other horror flick, but the concept of the mother figure, whether she is supernatural, absent, or reluctant, runs deep. I won’t spoil the ending, don’t worry, but know that it kicked me in the gut. Just a beautiful film.
The plot is lined out like this: A man kidnaps his two daughters and brings them to an abandoned house in the woods after having an epic breakdown. He mysteriously vanishes, and the girls, ages 3 and 1, are left on their own for five years before being found, almost completely feral, by a search party orchestrated by their uncle (played by the deliciously sexy Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, better known from Game of Thrones.) His wife is Annabel, a tough, tattooed bass player with zero maternal instincts – we see her dancing with delight at a negative pregnancy test early in the film – who is none too thrilled that her husband is bringing home two feral children. She even states to a friend that although all families are fucked up, she didn’t even get the chance to fuck this one up. They came pre-damaged.
Then there is the mysterious and terrifying “Mama.” I won’t give too much away because man, that’s where things get uber-scary, but let’s just say someone or something took care of those kids in the woods for all those years, and she’s not too keen on letting them go.
There’s some fantastic FX used in this movie, lots of CGI but not in an offensive “Ugh, with the green screen already” kind of way, and the chills and scares are downright palpable, but the real story is transformation. The transformation physically and psychologically of the girls Victoria and Lilly, and the transformation of Annabel through all this chaos. Coster-Waldau’s Luke kinda gets the shaft here, but the movie isn’t about him. It’s about the female characters and who will win and lose at survival between Mama, Annabel, and the girls.
Okay, full disclosure, without giving the ending away: I SOBBED at the end of this movie. My housemates were all “you’ve got to be kidding me” but it’s true. I cried at the end of a horror movie. I can’t tell you why, but I will say that Del Toro never steers me wrong with his films, and Mama is further proof.
I give Mama three and a half stars, with the other half lopped off for some disposable supporting characters and a couple plot holes that could have been tidied up. OH! And when you’re done watching it, be sure to go to the extra features and watch the 4 minute short film that made Del Toro want to make the movie. You might need clean underwear after it, but it’s totally worth the soiled panties.