McCoy on Movies: MAMA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tabari McCoy   
Sunday, 27 January 2013 13:28

McCoy on Movies: MAMA
It's a supernatural thriller starring a potential Academy Award winner in Jessica Chastain. So, why is our reviewer urging you exercise caution before heading out to see MAMA? Click here to find out! 

"I should have been one of the kids in This is 40 ... Get my agent on the phone NOW!" Victoria (Megan Charpentier) lets loose in a scene from director Andy Muschietti's supernatural thriller MAMACredit: Jonathan Olley © 2013 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved. 


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Daniel Kash, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse and Javier Botet

WRITER(S): Neil Cross, Andy and Barbara Muschietti
DIRECTOR: Andy Muschietti 
THE PLOT: Executive produced by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth), Mama stars Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) as Annabel, a Virginia-based would be rock musician who is enjoying life with her boyfriend Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). That nice, happy existence, however, is thrown for a loop when Lucas' nieces Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lily (Isabelle Nélisse) are found – alive – in the woods 5 years after going missing.

You see, the girls' father Jeffrey (also played by Coster-Waldau) had an ... Incident ... Which resulted in his unexplained disappearance and the girls' being left to fend for themselves after crashing in the woods. The thing is, however, the girls didn't survive in the woods by their selves for all those years. They had someone – or something, rather – watching over them.

That would be the force they simply referred to as "Mama" (Javier Botet) – and once the girls are found, Mama might be coming with them.

Annabel, Lucas and the girls eventually move into a house where the Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) can keep a close watch on them and continue digging into just who is this "mama" person Victoria keeps referring to in her hypnotherapy sessions. But as he gets closer to the truth, the more peril he may soon be in ... And once Annabel is left to take care of the girls by herself, she soon, too, may learn mama doesn't take too kindly to someone trying to take her place ...
THE TAKE: If you're not familiar with the work of Del Toro or only watch the film's trailer, you might walk into Mama expecting some Ring-type experience full of scary moments. Thus, if that's what you are in fact hoping for, let me stop you now: This is not a movie like that. Sure, there are some 'creepy' or 'jump' moments (which are common in most horror movies these days), but overall Mama is a story about a situation and not a "scary" movie in the traditional sense of the word.

While Chastain and her young female co-stars do a solid job acting-wise throughout the film, the story itself is someone predictable with weak male characters that don't add to much of anything (save for a small body count). Also, given the film's reliance upon other horror movie staples – the creepy child, the wronged spirit out for revenge to make things right in its mind – Mama doesn't really break any new ground.

But back to the overall film itself – Mama is billed as a supernatural thriller – not a 'horror' movie. That means the film is more into exploring a story, how the spirit world is interacting with the physical world and the bonds of what 'family' constitutes among the character's journey ... Along with occasional scare/fright. If that's what you're looking for, you'll find it in Mama although it will be quite familiar to what you've already seen in other movies of its nature dozens of times before. If you're looking for a horror movie, you might want to invest in something else ... Even if nothing of any significance has been out in theaters in a while.

PARTING SHOT: A film that isn't quite what many will likely expect to be getting upon entering theater, Mama is a well-done but, save for the most diehard fan of the supernatural, ultimately disappointing experience.


Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy


More articles by this author

McCoy on Movies: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
McCoy on Movies: Night at the Museum: Secret of the...
McCoy on Movies: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I
McCoy on Movies: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I...