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Mama  : Mummy, It’s Scary
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Friday, February 8, 2013
Andrés Muschietti
Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Morgan McGarry
For five years, little Victoria and Lily are abandoned in the woods until their uncle finds them. Their survival is a miracle but there is a much darker truth behind the story of their survival. The truth is not only bitter but scary as hell.

The plot: When Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) finally finds Victoria (Megan Charpentier as the older one and Morgan McGarry as younger) and Lily (Isabelle Nélisse) in the woods, they are completely unsociable, obviously due to their five-year long abandonment in the deadly woods. After their father had killed their mother, the girls had disappeared and by the time they are found a lot has changed.

Their survival isn’t just a stroke of luck, it is actually thanks to a lot of bad luck. Lucas adopts the girls with the help of Dr Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) who wants to make them the subject of clinical observation. Lucas’ girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain), a rock-band player, suddenly finds herself mothering the two girls. They are not just socially switched off, there is a strange, creepy voice and shadow around them which Annabel is sure is not a figment of her imagination. The girls confirm her doubts when they reveal their “Mama” (voiced by Javier Botet and Jane Moffat). It is now up to Annabel to save the girls from this Mama but it cannot be done without a few tough sacrifices.

The good: After a really long time a film in the horror genre does what it sets out to do: scare the daylights out of you. From the traditional door creaking to the ugly-scary-horrific Mama, from the sound effects to Mama’s signature music, everything is designed to scare. Antonio Riestra has beautifully shot the scenes with each and every frame oozing fear.

Robin Cook’s casting is impeccable – whether it is little Victoria played by Morgan McGerry (who is there for barely a few minutes) or the menacing Mama played by Javier Botet (and Jane Moffat’s voice), every character is believable. Right from the first moment, Mama gets your heart racing and you can’t resist reacting (putting your hands over your eyes, over your mouth, watching through your fingers, grabbing your neighbour, digging your nails into her/him) to most of the scenes. And Fernando Velázquez’s music only lifts this mood.

The bad: There are a few unexplained portions like, why does the girls’ father kill their mother and then try to kill the girls? What happened to their father? How did Eugene, Victoria’s maternal aunt know that Victoria’s father had killed his wife, ie her sister? Although that might’ve increased the length of the film, explanations were necessary to round it off. Also, apart from being a typical horror movie, at times it gives a whiff of Paranormal Activity and The Ring. And yes, a disclaimer must be added – the scenes are extremely scary and it is a strict no-no for those with weak hearts (or weak stomachs).

Overall: With a few ups and downs, it is still a brilliant horror movie, a good watch for lovers of the genre.

– Priyanka Ketkar    

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