“Mama”: A Very Spoiler-y Review

Like I said, spoilers ahead. SO MANY SPOILERS. Fair warning.

I loved it.

I had tried to avoid even watching the new versions of the trailer, because I hate going to a horror movie where all the scares are used up. Turned out that was completely unnecessary. There’s so much more to Mama.

So, we start with a distraught, suicidal father trying to kill his kids in the woods. No worry, Mama steps in to take him out, and from then on she adopts these little girls as her own. When they come back out of the woods, so does she. And she’s a very, very jealous parent.

There was a lot I didn’t expect from this movie. I liked seeing a female lead who’s “different”: tattooed, shacked-up, and not into the mother thing. Sure, the actress’s tattoos were probably fake, and she ends up ditching her Misfits t-shirt for a motherly turtleneck (REALLY?!) but still, it was a welcome change. I liked her impersonal interaction with the kids, though of course she warms to them in the end.

The jump scares were decent, too, and evolved from Mama being nothing but a shadow to having a horrible, twisted face. Her movements were disturbing; she died broken, and it shows. When she bent clear in half, backwards, the little hairs on my neck stood up. She scuttles like a cockroach, which never fails to be startling.

The kids were excellent. Lilly, especially. Her portrayal of a feral child was impressive, and her utter fixation on Mama and her artifacts had me believing.

SUPER-DUPER GIANT SPOILER TIME:

My favourite part? ONE KID DIES. When do you see that? When? I expected Uncle Lucas to die. I expected Annabelle, his girlfriend, to die. I almost expected both kids to die. But when Victoria refuses to go over the cliff with Mama, I thought for sure Lilly would stay with her. It turns out Lilly’s love for Mama trumps even the love she has for her sister, and she goes willingly into Mama’s arms one last time. That scene was unbelievable, in the realest sense: I thought it was trickery. I thought it was a “gotcha”, that Mama would fly back up at the last moment and drop Lilly unharmed into the arms of her family. NOPE. DEAD KID. WHAMMO.

And yet, I felt pity for Mama. She really wasn’t a monster, she was confused and heartbroken and yearning. Another twist I didn’t expect.

From the atmosphere, to the casting, to the creepy monster design, everything worked together. Del Toro did it again. Go see it.

6 thoughts on ““Mama”: A Very Spoiler-y Review

  • Nice, nice, nice – can’t wait to see it, even with the spoilers. 🙂 I saw critics’ reviews that warned of a totally unexpected ending, but even with one trailer I’ve seen, I can tell which kid seems more likely to go with the ghost / monster. I love stuff like that. So used to predictable plots from Hollywood, and horror films that don’t drip with gore and yet are successful in creating and sustaining tension are so rare.

  • Addendum – makes me think of Pan’s Labyrinth and how enthralled and horrified I was with that film. If anything, the real life stuff involving the Spanish Civil War was what made me squirm and cringe, and the dark fantasy elements were riveting. Does the poor kid die? Yes, and we don’t even know for sure if her story is literal or allegorical. Plain effing genius.

    • Agreed!

      It’s so fun to see a plot take a totally unexpected turn; even a couple of days later that ending has stuck with me, and I respect Del Toro for having gone the dark route. It was a treat when the story didn’t wrap up happily.

      I’m glad you’re going to check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it 🙂

    • It was sweet, in its way, and if you think about it there really wasn’t any other option. Lilly couldn’t have been integrated into normal life by that point. Still, it was sad to see the sisters split up that way.

  • If Lilly would have stayed with Lucas, Anabella, and Victoria, she would have problems becoming human. She spent 5 years (half her life with Mama) and the influence of Mama on her was very strong. If she went to school, the other 6 year olds who act human would tease and possibly be afraid of a strange 6 year old who looks human but has animalistic tendencies. As a grown up she would be institutionalized and never learn to function as a human.

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