Wild girls: Chastain goes motherly
by Richard Roeper
Very few horror movies would last past the second act if the characters in these films were actually fans of horror movies.
Sometime after the first occurrence of Scary Old-Timey Music Wafting Through the Vents, some time after Creepy Bugs Fluttering Inside the House and certainly by the time of the "Accidental" Fall That Sidelines a Key Character – well, that's when any red-blooded, moviegoing individual would run out the front door and never look back.
To the credit of director Andy Muschietti, his co-writing team and a first-rate cast, Mama succeeds in scaring the wits out of us and leaving some lingering, deeply creepy images, despite indulging in many of the aforementioned cliches – and about a half-dozen more. (Executive produced by horror master Guillermo del Toro, Mama is a feature-length expansion of a three-minute short that Muschietti made with his sister Barbara.)
In addition to at least three or four jump-in-your-seat stingers, we get some of the most creatively chilling nightmare sequences in recent memory. A stylized dream (which is really a transferred memory) set in the 19th century, in which we see a crazed young woman creating bloody terror before leaping off a cliff with her newborn, all of it shown from the madwoman's point of view? That's a lot more innovative than anything we're likely to see in yet another film about a plodding behemoth in a mask chasing dumb teenagers through the woods.
In the prologue to Mama, we learn of a shooting at a financial firm after an economic crash. A distraught executive named Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones) arrives home, quickly collects his two young daughters, Victoria and Lilly, and speeds off. They wind up in an abandoned house deep in the forest, where Lucas apparently intends to shoot his daughters before he can kill himself.
That's not quite how it works out...(READ FULL REVIEW)