Mama will rate as the year’s creepiest and best horror film that I have seen. Horror as a genre seems to have lost its shine completely over the years with below par movie spoiling the genre respectability and appeal to a great extent. What mam really does well for us is that, it introduces us to some new and interesting ways to spook us out as viewers. These sequences are dealt with wonderfully raising the film from its understandable lacking to a more respectable and engrossing affair. The audience is used to having ghosts scare the Jesus out of people, especially the kids. But here we have a couple of kids who are attached to a ghost and love her in her crudest possible form.
The story starts with a father making way with his two daughters and speeding away until he is brought back to his senses with a sudden decline into a gorge. The father makes his way to a cabin where he contemplates suicide after killing his two daughters but as luck would have it, the cabin is the home an ancient soul which would not let him do what he desires. Jeffrey as we come to know him as is killed but his two daughters survive in the cabin and remain their for the next 5 years until the persistent efforts of their uncle Lucas leads to their discovery. The daughters all this while were however looked upon by the spirit itself and they know her only as Mama. Once Lucas is able to win the custody of the two daughters and settles with them in a home made for medical analysis and research, strange things begin to happen. Its only a matter of time before Lucas is attacked and he ends up in a coma making Anabel, his girlfriend the only caretaker for the girls. As the plot thickens, a reluctant Anabel turns into a desperate protector for the girls.
Like I said at the onset, there are some sequences in the film which are sure to catch you off-guard. The uncanny bond that Lily(Isabelle Nélisse), the younger of the two girls share with Mama is both shocking and bizarre. As Victoria(Megan Charpentier), the elder sister, starts developing apprehensions about Mama and stays away more and more from her frequent visits, Lily starts getting agitated and her expressions are a treat to watch. With Victoria finding her way of life back, she tries a crack at a normal existence but is haplessly bound to Mama for the years that they spent together. Her sisters attachment to Mama further makes the matter complicated for her. Her only solace is her uncle Lucas(Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who being her father’s twin brother has an uncanny resemblance to her father. This becomes reason enough for Victoria to strike a chord with him instantly.
Mama herself has a horrendous past which she reveals first to Victoria and then in a smashing first person perspective dream to Annabel(Jessica Chastain). He past and her long lost child provides her reasons to feel attached to the kids that she looked after for five years. Now when the same kids are rescued by their parents, Her motherhood feels threatened by this sudden intrusion. In desperation the spirit takes it’s toll on the hapless family.
The setting of the film is wonderful and in keeping with the aesthetics. The special effects are gorgeous. The final sequence involving the family and Mama is exquisitely filmed. It has the right balance of beauty and shock value attached to it. Jessica Chastain after her heroic Maya in Zero Dark Thirty takes a sharp turn to essay an almost helpless semi-mother who doesn’t have a clue on what to do next to save her children. Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse essay Victoria and Lily with aplomb. they render the characters life like. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has shortish role but does his bit with conviction.
Overall, Mama is a worthy watch if you like the horror genre. Its the best bet that you have at a Horror film this year. At least for the while.