This week, Monster Monday contains multiple spoilers for the movie Mama, so beware. It’s now on Netflix UK, so if you have it, we do recommend you watch it! Also, we include several GIFs, which work well for illustrative purposes but – we are the first to admit, GIFs are fucking annoying after a few seconds of being on screen – so apologies in advance for those….or perhaps enjoy (they are frickin’ creepy).
Mama is the titular monster of this creepy 2013 horror movie, produced by massive monster fan, Guillermo Del Toro. As the poster suggests, Mama concerns a spooky tall woman and a little girl (though there are actually two girls) and moths. Lots of moths…
It all begins when a pair of little girls are taken into the woods by their deranged father, who was driven mad by losses in the recent stock market crash. The brute has already killed his wife and also wants to take his two girls to the grave with him – he’s a selfish shitheel who’s out of his mind and an utter monster (played by Jaime Lannister, who does a sterling job, btw). Crashing his car in the snow, he drags his daughters to an abandoned cabin in the woods, and prepares to shoot them and then himself. Luckily for the two girls, a strange entity in the house brutally removes their despairing daddy and looks after them, somehow feeding them cherries in the depths of winter. Several years later, in one of the creepiest scenes, a search party finds the two little girls and takes them back to civilisation. They’re terrifyingly feral but mostly unharmed. Think Newt in Aliens if she’d been raised by an alien in the mud. OK, bad example. Anyway, when their father’s identical twin brother (Jaime Lannister again!) and his rock goddess girlfriend (the kickass Jessica Chastain) take them in, it seems that the spooky entity who saved them is not quite ready to let her adopted children go…
Mama is a very solid fairytale. In fact, putting it under the fairytale category means the film gets away with several logic skips and very convenient dreams that reveal important plot points, that sort of thing. You see, among her talents, Mama has the convenient plot advancing power of uploading her nightmarish death into your dreams. This handily fills in the protagonists with the entity’s tragic back story. As everyone learns, Mama used to be a woman with a slightly odd appearance, who, back in the 1800s, was distraught that nuns were going to take her baby away. Chased by a mob after stabbing a nun (hate it when that happens…), Mama fell off a cliff, dying along with her baby and, well, it’s a major tragedy.
Of course she’s far more powerful now she’s dead. Still searching for release, Mama can suck out your life force, or possess you with her power, or sneak around as a sentient pile of goopey hair before lunging at you really fucking fast. Yikes. Basically, she can do all the standard stuff that apparently HAS to happen in ghost movies with a modern CGI budget, especially since they have it leftover from all those Japanese Horror remakes fourteen years ago. Mama is one of the better examples of CGI monsters, though. Which is why there are so many gifs in this entry. Sorry for that again, but the animation really shows Mama at her best.
Despite her terrifying undead appearance, and jealous rages, Mama really is loved by the two little girls she protected. But her unwillingness to let them go, and her habit of occasionally ‘playing rough’ make her more like a dangerous wild animal – like female cats when they’re pregnant being all loved-up on baby hormones, and which is why they don’t eat those mice they take in. For a while anyway. Mama is very effective when looming in a closet, the energy of her animalistic fury makes Mama into a terrifying creation when she finally bursts from the shadows. You do NOT want this coming down the landing after you.
Think its the spiderlike hands and the manic, uneven eyes…and it gets worse.
Or down the corridor either
And finally, this is what spending five years with her does to those two sweet little girls, so…
Many reasons to be afraid of her, then. However, kudos to the end of the film for ultimately giving Mama someone who loves her – although we’d go with the idea that the little girl was also ‘dead all along’, so thank you TV tropes for that theory.
Mama (2012) expands on Andrés Muschietti’s short film (also it’s at the bottom of this article), which was truly terrifying but frustratingly inconclusive. The film version does over-explain everything, which is a common problem with most Hollywood horror, but in the context of ‘a fairytale’ this isn’t really too annoying. Also, really love Jessica Chastain in this. She’s a worthy opponent, who bravely faces off against Mama’s terrifying fury.
Besides, no one in the film is more monstrous than the father at the start. This asshole clearly believes he has the right to murder his wife and their children, on account of being an entitled selfish fuckload who thinks they’re his property or something. So, still pretty much rooting for Mama most of the way through! Many fairytales seem to include a homicidal parent, too, so this works brilliantly.
Mama is worth seeing, but check out the original first of all, as it’s free, and a great introduction to the madness of Mama.