EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|MAMA (director/writer: Andy Muschietti; screenwriters: Neil Cross/Barbara Muschietti/based on the short film by the Muschiettis; cinematographer: Antonio Riestra; editor: Michele Conroy; music: Fernando Velázquez; cast: Jessica Chastain (Annabel), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Lucas/Jeffrey), Megan Charpentier (Victoria), Isabelle Nélisse (Lilly), Javier Botet (Mama), Jane Moffat (Jean Podolski, voice of mama), Daniel Kash (Dr. Dreyfuss); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: J. Miles Dale/Barbara. Muschietti; Universal Pictures; 2013-Spain/Canada-in English)|
|"Genuinely creepy, well-crafted,
but after a fine setup it degenerates into a
cheesy supernatural thriller."
by Dennis Schwartz
Genuinely creepy, well-crafted and visually pleasing, but after a fine setup it degenerates into a cheesy supernatural thriller. First-time director Andy Muschietti directs and Barbara Muschietti co-writes with her sibling the story, and the siblings co-write the screenplay with Neil Cross. The executive producer is Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth").
the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, the mother of the
bespectacled 5-year-old Victoria (Megan
Charpentier) and 1-year-old Lilly (Isabelle
Nélisse) is murdered at the
workplace by her crazed investment firm executive
hubby Jeffrey (Nikolaj
Coster-Waldau), who in a panic flees
with the frightened kiddies in his car and heads to
the mountains. On a snowy road he goes into a skid
while speeding and the damaged car lands in the
woods. The three survive the crash unhurt and find
shelter in a secluded cabin by a lake in the woods.
Before you can say mama, there appears a sorry
excuse for mama-- a flying ghost sporting a messy
swirl of brown hair and dressed in rags (Javier
Spanish actor). Called mama by the
kiddies, she intervenes and stops their daddy from
killing them in a murder-suicide and finishes off
the deranged monster dad. The girls vanish for five
years, but their Uncle Lucas (also Nikolaj
Coster-Waldau) hires private
investigators to continue searching for his missing
nieces. The feral youngsters are found and it's
discovered they somehow survived through mysterious
circumstances. The struggling art illustrator
Nikolaj and his rock band live-in girlfriend Annabel
Chastain) adopt the girls
with the support of research psychiatrist,
Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash),
who believes the girls survived by creating an
imaginary female protector they called mama. Dr.
Dreyfuss' institute allows the struggling couple to
move into a big house and as part of the bargain has
free access to study the girls. In the new house, a
supernatural force appears to be protecting the girls
and threatening the lives of their new competing
parents. Mysteriously doors open, shocks happen,
screams jolt the household, scary dolls are made by
the girls, moths and web-like patterns
suddenly appear on the walls and eerie noises
emanate for no reason. Scary stuff that take the pic
into the ridiculous, where it never recovers. The
reluctant mother Annabel is made out to be an unfit
mother who is too punk rock to care about kids, but
who predictably comes around to show she has some good
maternal instincts. Meanwhile a rigid one-dimensional
great aunt (Jane Moffat)
is the earthbound heavy, trying to get the family
court to give her control of the children because she
lives a conventional life.
The ghost story from the mid-point on become increasingly tedious, but the outlandish climax is what totally ruined the other-world experience for me. The climax offers an unimpressive explanation of who this mama character is and why she materialized. The slick ghost story with tacky implausible answers offers some scares without being a gross-out gory horror pic, that some mainstream viewers will appreciate. But, for me, all the special effects are cheapened by how loudly they are materialized and used in the same mindless way as would an Abbott and Costello pic to convey scary ghosts.
REVIEWED ON 1/1/2013 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ