Mama (2013) - Horror. 100min. PG-13.
Other Ratings: IMDb 6.7. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Brief Summary: Through tragic circumstances, two very young girls (Victoria and Lilly) are marooned in a deep woods cabin for five years with something malevolent, Five years later, their uncle and his girlfriend obtain custody of the newly rescued sisters and begin trying to reintegrate them back into normality. Unfortunately, something has followed then home, something with different needs.
The Good: The Acting is solid throughout, and the child actresses are surprisingly good. The director clearly understands, at least initially, that the unseen is always scarier than the seen. At times the directing is flawless, though this is not consistent through the whole film.
The Bad: The suspense is stretched too far and eventually breaks, leaving only apathy. Subplots are underdeveloped to the point of being unnecessary distractions. And the ending, while I can't detail it and still avoid spoilers, felt completely out of place in a horror movie, more like what one might expect in a surrealistic art school fantasy.
Overall: I came into this film with unrealistically high expectations after watching it's very creepy trailer and as is too often the case, it didn't live up to it. Although Mama starts off well, quickly achieving a level of foreboding that will have viewers looking over their shoulders and considering turning on their lights, it is unsuccessful at mainlining that suspense, which gradually fades away. Underdeveloped subplots, the opportunistic psychologist and especially the concerned aunt, distract from the horror and are serious weaknesses in the film.
The character Mama is perhaps a little too reminiscent of the supernatural threats in many J-horror films, such as The Grudge. And while maintaining genre tradition is worthwhile, it is clear that the director expects this style of horror to be new to the audience and rests the success of the film on it.
Watching this film, I couldn't help but be utterly disappointed in the wasted potential. And speaking of wasted potential, I do hope the director, Andrés Muschietti, continues to direct. Unlike several directors that I would love to see retire, Muschietti shows real potential in parts of the film.
Final Grade: D+