Mama (2013 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrés Muschietti|
|Produced by||Guillermo del Toro
J. Miles Dale
|Screenplay by||Neil Cross
|Story by||Andrés Muschietti
by Andrés Muschietti
|Music by||Fernando Velázquez|
|Edited by||Michelle Conroi|
De Milo Productions
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
$10,784,216 (DVD and Blu-ray Sales)
Mama is a 2013 Spanish-Canadian supernatural horror-fantasy film co-written and directed by Andrés Muschietti and based on his 2008 Argentine short film Mamá. The film stars Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and is produced by Zandy Federico and co-writer Bárbara Muschietti, with Guillermo del Toro serving as executive producer.
The film deals with the story of two young girls abandoned in a forest cabin, fostered by an unknown entity that they fondly call "Mama", which eventually follows them to their new suburban home after their uncle retrieves them. Originally set for an October 2012 release, it was released in theaters on 18 January 2013.
Distraught after losing his fortune in the 2008 financial crisis, stockbroker Jeffrey D'Asange kills his business partners and estranged wife before taking his children, three-year-old Victoria and one-year-old Lilly, away from home. Driving dangerously fast on a snowy road, Jeffrey loses control and the car slides off and down the mountain, crashing into the woods. Surviving, he takes the children into an abandoned cabin and builds a fire, even though Victoria is resistant, thinking she saw someone inside. Planning to kill his daughters and commit suicide, he holds a gun to Victoria's head, but a shadowy figure suddenly drags him away, suspending him in the air and strangling him with his tie. Victoria turns around, but because her father had taken her glasses away, she did not see the gun and could not see what was happening. The girls, huddled by the fireside, are tossed a cherry by the mysterious figure.
Five years later a rescue party, sponsored by Jeffrey's identical twin brother Lucas, finds Victoria and Lilly alive, but in a feral state after years of isolation. The girls are put in a welfare clinic under the psychiatric care of Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss. They make reference to "Mama", a maternal protector figure. When Lucas tries to communicate with the girls, they are initially hostile, but Victoria recognizes him after he gives her a pair of glasses and she can see him properly. Dreyfuss agrees to support Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel's custody claim against the girls' maternal great-aunt Jean Podolski. In exchange, they must move into a clinic-owned house and grant Dreyfuss continued contact with Victoria and Lilly for research purposes. When Victoria and Lilly arrive at the house, Victoria acclimates quickly to domestic life at the house while Lilly initially retains much of her feralness, not being used to being around people like Lucas or Annabel.
While in bed with Lucas, Annabel is startled by the appearance of a shadowy, monstrous figure in their doorway. While investigating, Lucas is attacked by "Mama" and is put into a coma after falling down the stairs. Annabel, who has no relation to the girls and is uncomfortable being around them, finds herself left alone to care for them. Although Annabel makes progress with Victoria, she finds Lilly hostile. Alarmed by nightmares of a woman and Victoria's warning about Mama's jealousy, Annabel asks Dreyfuss to investigate. He initially thought "Mama" to be an imaginary alter-ego of Victoria, believing she had to take on a parental role to take care of Lilly for five years; however, his research corroborates Victoria's story that Mama is an aggrieved mother and brings to light the story of Edith Brennan, a mental asylum patient in the 1800s.
Dreyfuss recovers a box from a government warehouse containing a baby's remains, and first encounters Mama when interviewing Victoria again. Annabel has a nightmare revealing Mama's past: when Edith Brennan ("Mama") was sent to St. Gertrude's Asylum, her child was taken from her and given to nuns. She escaped the asylum, stabbed a nun, and took her baby back. Fleeing her pursuers, Brennan jumped off a cliff, but before hitting the water below, Brennan and the child made impact with a large branch (accounting for her misshapen head) and her unconscious body fell into the water and she drowned; Edith's child died on impact with the branch, but the baby's blanket-wrapped corpse snagged on the branch and did not fall with Brennan into the water below. Annabel realizes that Mama still doesn't realize her child died from hitting the tree; Mama unsuccessfully searched the woods for more than a century and had taken on Victoria and Lilly as substitutes.
Lucas regains consciousness after a disturbing vision of his dead brother, Jeffrey, tells him to go to the cabin in the woods and save his daughters. Annabel and the girls are visited by Jean, who is alarmed by the girls' bruises from their still-animalistic behavior, and tries to get Annabel investigated for child abuse. Victoria's growing closeness to Annabel makes her less willing to play with Mama, unlike Lilly.
Dreyfuss visits the cabin at night to investigate and attempts to communicate with Mama. After his flashlight stops working, he uses the flash of his camera as a light but is suddenly attacked and killed by Mama. Finding Dreyfuss missing, Annabel steals the girls' case files from his office. She learns that Brennan and Mama are the same person, while Lucas leaves the hospital to search for the cabin. Shortly after making a breakthrough with Lilly after finding her outside in the cold, Annabel and the girls are attacked by a jealous Mama, who kills Jean and uses her body to spirit the children away in Jean's automobile. Annabel regains consciousness and hurries off to save the children. She meets Lucas along the way, and he joins her to find the children.
The couple spot the children on the same cliff where Brennan leaped with her child to their deaths over a century earlier. Mama is preparing to re-enact her fall, taking Victoria and Lilly with her. When Annabel offers Mama the remains of her child, Mama takes the skeleton, and transforms into her human form, sobbing at the baby's death. However, when Lilly (who, being younger than her sister, remembers only Mama as her original parent) calls out for her, Mama reverts to her more monstrous form, throws the baby's remains off the cliff, and takes the girls again, nearly killing Annabel and Lucas (but refraining from doing so mainly because Victoria clearly shows she cares about them). Lucas is knocked unconscious, but Annabel clings to Victoria, who asks to stay with Annabel instead of leaving with Mama after Annabel's struggle for Victoria to stay, despite Lilly's pleas to come with her. After a tearful farewell, Mama and Lilly float off the cliff and fall, turning into a shower of moths when they hit the branch that originally killed Brennan and her baby. The film ends with Annabel and Lucas embracing Victoria, and Victoria noticing a moth with bright blue wings (as opposed to Mama's moths, which were all dark) landing on her hand, indicating that Lilly is still with her in some form.
- Jessica Chastain as Annabel
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Lucas Desange / Jeffrey Desange
- Megan Charpentier as Victoria Desange
- Morgan McGarry as Young Victoria
- Isabelle Nélisse as Lilly
- Maya and Sierra Dawe as Young Lilly
- Daniel Kash as Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss
- Javier Botet as Mama
- Laura Guiteras as Mama (Voice)
- Melina Matthews as Mama (Voice)
- Hannah Cheesman as Beautiful Mama / Edith Brennan
- Jane Moffat as Jean Podolski / Mama (Voice)
- David Fox as Burnsie
- Julia Chantrey as Nina
- Elva Mai Hoover as Secretary
- Dominic Cuzzocrea as Ron
- Diane Gordon as Louise
The film began production in Pinewood Toronto Studios on 3 October 2011. Production ended on 18 December 2011. Parts of the film were also shot in Quebec City, Quebec. Although the film was produced in Canada, it is based in Clifton Forge, Virginia. The film was initially scheduled for release in October 2012, but was later rescheduled for January to avoid competing with Paranormal Activity 4. Its success at that later date has, among with other dump months horror films, convinced studios to start opening horror movies year-round.
Mama received generally favorable reviews from critics; it currently holds a 65% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 149 reviews. The site's consensus states: "If you're into old school scares over cheap gore, you'll be able to get over Mama 's confusing script and contrived plot devices."
Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, enjoyed the film, giving it three stars out of four and saying, "Movies like Mama are thrill rides. We go to be scared and then laugh, scared and then laugh, scared and then shocked. Of course, there's almost always a little plot left over for a sequel. It's a ride I'd take again." Owen Gleiberman, reviewing for Entertainment Weekly, gave the movie a B and said, "Mama lifts almost every one of its fear-factor visuals from earlier films: the rotting black passageways that spread like mold over the walls (very Ringu meets Repulsion); the crouched figures that skitter and pounce à la the infamous 'spider' outtake from the original Exorcist; the way that Mama, with her arms like smoky-shadowy bent tendrils, evokes both the monster from the Alien films and also, in a funny way, the crumpled-puppet gothic mischievousness of Tim Burton animation. Nothing in the movie is quite original, yet Muschietti, expanding his original short, knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve. It helps to have an actress on hand as soulful as Jessica Chastain..."
IGN editor Scott Corulla rated the film 7.3 out of 10 and wrote, "This is a fine first film for director Andrés Muschietti and, despite some missteps and disappointments, very well could be a harbinger of interesting things to come for the helmer." The Huffington Post wrote, "With Del Toro's name up front, expect Mama to be the winter horror film of choice in 2013." The Philadelphia Inquirer called the film an "effectively spooky ghost story", adding, "Mama is full of arty tropes – sepia-toned flashbacks, flickering lights, menacing murmurings. The atmosphere is positively spectral. And it's easy to see why del Toro is a champion: Like his Pan's Labyrinth, there's a fairy-tale aspect (the film even begins with the title card "Once upon a time..."), with children in jeopardy, a witchy monster, and edge-of-the-precipice confrontations." Canyon News wrote, "The scares do indeed come a mile a minute and will unnerve even some of the toughest moviegoers." The Houston Chronicle wrote, "Director Andres Muschietti is cinematically literate – in one example he borrows a flashbulb effect from Hitchcock's Rear Window – and he has visual panache. Much of the movie is surprisingly beautiful."
The film earned $28,402,310 on its opening weekend, debuting at #1 and playing at 2,647 theaters. As of 4 April 2013, it grossed $146,428,180 worldwide and is a commercial success. Additionally, Jessica Chastain, for the second time in her career, claimed the top two spots of the box-office with her starring roles in Mama and Zero Dark Thirty.
|Saturn Awards||Best Horror Film||Mama||Nominated|
|Young Artist Award||Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film||Megan Charpentier||Nominated|||
|Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film||Morgan McGarry||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film||Isabelle Nelisse||Nominated|
- "MAMA (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Fritz, Ben (17 January 2013). "Horror movie 'Mama' to top new Schwarzenegger, Wahlberg films". Los Angeles Times.
- "Mama (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
- "Mama (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
- Chang, Justin (15 January 2013). "Mama". Variety.
- Rolfe, Pamela (17 April 2013). "Bittersweet Results for Spanish Box Office in First Quarter". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Tartaglione, Nancy (5 May 2013). "Studios Translate Local Language Movies Into Lucrative Global Business". Deadline. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Trumbore, Dave (10 August 2012). "Universal Shuffles OBLIVION, Ron Howard’s RUSH and the Guillermo del Toro-Produced Horror Film, MAMA; THE PERKS OF BEING A WALL FLOWER Pushed Back". Retrieved 11 August 2012.
- Alexander, Bryan (1 October 2013). "Who killed the Halloween horror movies?". USA Today. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Mama at Rotten Tomatoes
- Roeper, Richard (16 January 2013). "Mama". Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago: Sun-Times Media Group). Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- Gleiberman, Owen (25 January – 1 February 2013). "Mama". Entertainment Weekly (New York: Time Inc.): 98.
- "'Mama' Trailer: Jessica Chastain Stars In Year's Scariest Film? (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- Rea, Steven (18 January 2013). "Mama: Every Adoptive Parent's Nightmare". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Media Network).
- Anderson, LaDale (17 January 2013). "Mama Is Spine-Tingling Scary". Canyon News (Beverly Hills, California: Glen Kelly).
- LaSalle, Mick (18 January 2013). "HORROR – Mama is Disturbingly Entertaining". Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Jack Sweeney).
- "Weekend Box Office Results for January 18–20, 2013". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- Boardman, Madeline (20 January 2013). "Weekend Box Office: 'Mama' Takes The Number One Spot". Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- Corliss, Richard (21 January 2013). "The Chastain Perfecta: Mama and Zero Score While Arnold Stands Down". TIME (magazine). Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "35th Annual Young Artist Awards". Young Artist Awards. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
- Official website
- Mama on Facebook
- Mama at the Internet Movie Database
- Mama at Box Office Mojo
- Mama at Rotten Tomatoes
- Mama at Metacritic