“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.

Short Film: “Pop Fiction”

Hilarious new horror from Ryan Stevens. This one had me laughing, alone, on the couch, in the dark.

“Sam and Emma were just like any other couple.. until HE popped in!
A terrifying vintage tale of HORROR… SURVIVAL… and FEAR”

POP FICTION from Ryan Stevens on Vimeo.

Nice work, Ryan! Hope to see more from you.

The Further Domestication of One Mrs. Snider

I was baking cookies last night (because yesterday was Saturday and Saturdays are for baking) and managed to spill cinnamon everywhere, including all over my pants. Sexy. I figured it’s about time I do something about this whole wearing-what-I’m-cooking thing.

I just bought the most adorable apron:

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Look at how cute that is! I’m 100% certain it will make my already-stellar baking taste even better. I mean, seriously. How could it not?

(photo belongs to Etsy seller Boojiboo, who stocks the cutest vintage-inspired aprons I have ever seen, including this horror movie piece.)

PS – Honourable mention goes to @falconjockey on Twitter for suggesting a Darth Vader apron, though my tastes run a little more to Fifties Housewife than Dark Space Lord.

The End.

I just finished watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? for the first time (I know, I know, shame on me). It was a great film, but what I liked best was the ending.

Spoiler alert for those of us who have been under rocks since 1962.

Okay, so the best part was the precise cut at the moment the cops run down the beach to check on Blanche. I loved it because the movie ended right before we find out whether Blanche is dead. We see a psychotic Jane spinning and dancing in the crowd, and the crowd moving away, and the cops almost reaching Blanche, then BOOM! It’s over.

Did Blanche die? If so, will Jane be going to prison? When Blanche told Jane that she’d caused her own accident, was Blanche only trying to befriend Jane so Jane would go get help?

I loved it so much because I love complex endings. I love not being told precisely what happened. I love it when the exact ending is left up to my imagination.

It’s something I try to do with my own fiction: take What’s Inside, for example. The story has an ending, in a way, but it’s up to the reader to decide what comes next. Some reviews wanted the story to have been longer, and I get that some readers enjoy complete resolution. But I like leaving an end or two untied.

The flirtation between “finished-enough” to be satisfying and left “unfinished-enough” to let the reader interact with the story is something that excites me as a writer. I want you left curious. I want to encourage you to participate in the story, to think about it long after you’ve put the story down.

It worked in the case of Baby Jane, and I hope it works in my stories, too.