Despite Guillermo Del Toro producing a handful of notable horror success, the majority of his work (although insidiously stylised) almost inevitably become destined for the ‘bargain bucket’; and with an odd advertising ploy many would mistake him for the director of his newly produced film, Mama. Based on the deeply unsettling properties of the short film, Mama follows the tale of two young girls found after years of living in the woods being protected by a ghostly figure, as there’re adopted into their uncle’s life. Del Toro’s print proves to be prominent throughout as a dark, unusual tale sustains horror for the minority of the film until ‘Mama’ is introduced and things get embarrassingly laughable.
Starting effectively showing the beginnings of the sinister relationship between the children and their newly claimed (but sparingly seen) ‘Mama’, the film manages to maintain audience interest through the actions of the soon feral and seemingly possessed children. After through tests and psychological examinations there’re soon shown to their uncle and aunt who take on the ambitious task of attempting to control them, as events transpire and horror ensues. This is until a notable moment where the uncle and most probably the director is hit on the head and idiocy follows. After a good third of the film chilled the spine, turned the thinking cogs and put the viewer off having children for a good few hours, the film totally falls apart with plot strands failing to connect and scenes of horror failing to scare. The desperate attempts to anchor the film down made by the performances of both the unsettling children as well as auntie and uncle (Chastain and Coster-Waldau) had been quelled by the pitiful attempts of the poorly constructed, laughable appearance CGI disgrace that is ‘Mama’.
With ‘Mama’ being the source of this films horror it came with great disappointment as well as unintended hilarity to see her being revealed in full frequently throughout the film. Once she was shown she no longer was a character of horror instead becoming a tiresome tool of consistent ‘jump-scares’ that never fail to momentarily scare yet always prove to be monotonously predictable. With her appearance also came the spark setting of a chain of totally nonsensical plot lines that seemingly lead to an inevitable twist which unfortunately never comes as plots pathetically sizzle out of sight. This soon leads to the conclusion which shows to follow in disappointing suite being nonsensical, idiotic and frustratingly sentimental. Consisting of a supposedly ‘terrifying’ CGI being, and a shroud of bizarre sentimentality, Mama’s conclusion feels dismally underwhelming and moronic, providing a raw tasting ‘icing’ on an already fowl tasting ‘cake’.
For a film based on such a horrifying and unsettling premise, Mama shows to be quite the opposite displaying more style than substance giving the undesired Hollywood touch of overused CGI, pathetic story arcs and typical ‘jump-scares’. Rarely did the tension reach unbearable heights, despite their being some moments of originality, and ultimately this films intriguing premise is destroyed by its only horror device, a 5 foot, hovering CGI mother.
4/10- The stubborn, tame, irritating and fake attributes of Mama makes this an ugly sight.