Mama tells the sad tale of two pretty little girls, Victoria and Lily, that are left all alone in a secluded forest cabin by their Father. It seems their Father has just killed several people including their Mother. In the aftermath of his crimes, which are never actually explained, he kidnaps his two young daughters and drives them to this deserted cabin on a snowy mountain pass.
The girls are left to their own devices and soon become feral. They are discovered five years later living in filth, scampering around on all fours, and barely able to speak a word. The only reason the girls were able to survive as long as they did is because they were never actually alone. Even as their Father was walking up to the Cabin, little Victoria kept saying that there was someone else was there with them. A spirit, the girls call Mama, has been feeding them cherries and moths while looking after them the whole time they were lost.
After the girls are found, they spend a short time in a mental hospital before they go to live with their Uncle Lucas. Lucas never gave up looking for the girls after they went missing. He spends all of his money and spare time trying to find his nieces. Luke and his girlfriend, Annabel, move to the suburbs to give the girls a better home. Annabel was very happy not to have children of her own, but when the girls show up she takes on her role as caregiver very seriously.
She gives up everything she had including her band in order to raise the girls. In fact, that is one of my favourite parts in Mama is watching how Annabel evolves from a punky rocker chick into a caring and fiercely protective “Mother” at the end of the film.
The story goes that Guillermo Del Toro was so impressed with the 2008 short film Mama by Andy Muschietti that he signed on to become executive producer and turned it into a full length feature film. Guillermo said the short was essentially one of the scariest littlest scenes he had ever seen.
Even though there were some major plot holes and I suspect a deleted scene or two, I thought the story was pretty straight forward with no big surprises to be found. The girls were exceptionally creepy when they keep appearing out of no where. However, there were far too many jump scares and not enough real horror to be found to make Mama a great Ghost story. It is one of those movies that was interesting to watch but completely forgettable also. We see the CGI-laden Ghost far too often to make the movie truly scary. Perhaps the power of suggestion would have been better in a ghost story?
Where the movie really stumbles and falls is the ending. It just didn’t make much sense to me. I understand the trend lately is for an unhappy ending or an unexpected twist, but there never was a WTF? moment. Instead it was a bit of a let down. Mama was a nice slow build up of a classic ghost story up until the last ten minutes of the film.
If you like creepy little kids that scurry around like feral little monsters popping up unexpectedly or overprotective ghosts seeking closure, you just might enjoy Mama. It comes across as an effective and creepy thriller.