Mama is Not Fond of Your Sanity
Javier Botet is pretty good at playing women. Not normal women, in the sense that normal women wouldn’t eat someone’s face or raise feral children in an abandoned shed. The latter’s what we’re looking at here, because mama-mia, this movie review’s about Mama! In all seriousness, it scared the jack-ripping shit out of me, and I can honestly say that it’s yet another Guillermo del Toro masterpiece. Let’s talk about it.
A man murders his coworkers and wife, kidnaps his daughters, and crashes his car out in the snow wilderness. They happen upon a small cabin, which is where dear daddy decides to kill himself and his daughters rather than have them all face starvation and solitude. That’s when you meet Mama. Mama kills daddy, and raises the girls in her own unique way, unique here meaning they become like animals.
So daddy’s brother hires a search party to hunt the three down. His girlfriend Annabel is in a rock band, and she’s not fond of children. BUT ALAS. The two old guys and their bloodhound find the two beastie girls, and Doctor Gerald Dreyfuss swings things in court so Uncle Lucas gets the kids. There’s a compromise, though. In exchange for giving them a big, child-suitable place to live, Doc wants access to the kids so he can do a case study.
Of course Mama don’t like nobody givin’ love to her kids; It is ALL downhill from there. I genuinely like this movie, so you’re getting zero essential plot spoilers. You’ll thank me later.
Now, let’s talk a bit about what makes Mama scary. The character and the movie, I mean. My favorite bit is that each and every jump scare is telegraphed. Yes, this is scary. It is about to get even scarier. Will seeing it coming help you? No. No it will not. Even on the third view, the bigger scares still make me wince. Of course, knowing that Mama is always watching tends to creep you out.
Mama herself is terrifying. A quick Google search of “Javier Botet” will give you a pretty good idea of the physique you’re dealing with. Tall, lanky, bony. Handsome guy, but now when he’s playing freaky-ass women who like to kill people. They keep her unseen for the most part, but you get plenty of opportunities to gander at her pretty, pretty face later on.
Lilly and Victoria are the girls, by the way. Forgot to mention, but they get to scare you too. Between their creepy little crawl and their tendency to do cute yet startling things, you’ll love them! Wonderful little actresses, the both of them. Take any Stephen King movie, and the kids are all mental defects who like playing and singing and being stupid. Don’t get me wrong, Mama’s girls aren’t right in the head either, but at least their performance is convincing.
Speaking of actresses, Jessica Chastain is distractingly attractive as Annabel. Yes, quite the tasteless thing to note, but it can take away from the tension at times. Let’s be serious: a punk rock bass-playing lass with short black hair, raccoon makeup, and a gruff, sassy attitude. Survey says: Yes please.
Oh, and one last thing before the alt review. That scene where it’s supposed to be “late” and the sun’s blazing through the curtains? Happens a few times, but the movie’s good enough to make it forgivable. Also, Lilly eats moths. Several times. Icky. They’re Mama’s signifier, so moths mean Mama. Just thought you should know.
You know what? No alternate review. Maybe I just have a unique taste in movies. Maybe everything I like to watch is actually god-awful. But guess what? I don’t give a fuck! Too many critics are bogus. Mama is a damn good horror movie, and you should check it out. Slight chance of a once-off effect after you’ve seen Mama face to face, but still worth a rewatch or four. And with that, I’m done.