Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

January 22, 2013

CALLERI: Creeping around with Chastain and 'Mama'


Niagara Gazette — The therapist believes that the sisters will develop positively if they are given a chance to bond with their uncle and live in a structured environment. It doesn’t help that Victoria continually refers to an unseen “mama,” or that Lily prefers to sleep under, not on top of a bed, and enjoys munching on bugs and twigs. She also lets out howls of displeasure whenever anyone attempts to touch her. Don’t get too close to Lily.

The director and screenwriters have decided that there has to be a bigger fly in the ointment. Lucas’s girlfriend, Annabel, is not child-friendly. In fact, she loathes them. Her life preference is to be a Goth rocker, a bassist no less. Music is her passion, not mothering. Before you can say “I think I know where this is going,” the films goes exactly there. Lucas is laid up, and Annabel is compelled to either flee for her life or raise the kids. Meanwhile, all manner of bizarre happenings take over the nice suburban house, which is a little too close to the original cabin for comfort. Some of these happenings include nighttime noises, misplaced objects, and a plague of moths.

“Mama” is a supernatural thriller that relies less on big jolts meant to terrify you and more on creepy atmospheric occurrences meant to make your skin crawl. The picture is not about blood and gore, but rather it’s about emotional attachment. Will Annabel be able to bond with Victoria and Lily, and they with she? Or, will she end up being one more victim of the ghost of motherhood past? The filmmakers have saved what they think is the best for last.

During its middle portion, the movie gets slightly sluggish. Things become a bit too familiar before the final 15 minutes when questions are answered. Regardless, “Mama” looks great thanks to cinematographer Antonio Riestra. Fernando Velázquez’s music adds a nice element.

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