Mama Parent Guide
Don't expect any redeeming qualities from this obsessive maternal apparition.
Parent Movie Review
Maybe it’s the arrival of the post spending spree credit card bills, or the lack of sun or a shortage of general goodwill after the holidays. Whatever it is, January can be a dismal time of year even in movie theaters—unless of course you like horror movies.
Tromping out the usual tale of a disembodied spirit who wreaks havoc on the lives of families and the interior walls of their house, the evil stepmother script gets turned on its head in the horror movie Mama. This time it’s the stepchildren who are kind of creepy.
Five years after disappearing, two young girls (Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse) are found living in a deserted cabin in the forest. It’s evident a 5-year-old and baby couldn’t have survived on their own, so the only question is: Who else was in the cabin?
Behaving like wild animals when they are rescued, the siblings are put under Dr. Dreyfuss’ (Daniel Kash) care until he deems them fit to live with their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Aunt Annabel (Jessica Chastain). Lucas eagerly commits to raising his dead brother’s children. But, Annabel, a tattooed guitarist in a rock band, isn’t so sure she is ready to exchange life on the road for motherhood. She is even less sure when Lucas is rushed to the hospital after inexplicably falling down the stairs. Left alone with the two feral children, Annabel begins to see fleeting shadows and hear strange noises coming from her nieces’ bedroom.
Jessica Chastain (looking remarkably different from her award winning role in Zero Dark Thirty) and the two young actresses (who scurry around the house on all fours, gorge on moths and grunt out inarticulate sounds) do their part to create the eerie atmosphere in the opening scenes of this film. But like so many movies in this genre, the fright factor plummets once we see the ghastly and ghostly Mama. The script also wanders off on unresolved tangents introducing storylines that it fails to follow up. Along with the mandatory jump scenes introduced with screeching stringed instruments are the-to-be-expected elements of dark rooms, flickering lights and blood oozing from the wall. However the depiction of a distraught father readying himself to shoot his child is a disturbing portrayal of domestic violence, especially in a fictional film created strictly for entertainment.
Given the dearth of choices in theaters right now, Mama will likely lure in more than a few viewers. But don’t expect any redeeming qualities from this obsessive maternal apparition. She makes Snow White’s evil stepmother look like a fairy godmother.Directed by Andres Muschietti. Starring Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release January 17, 2013. Updated May 26, 2016
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mama rated PG-13? Mama is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements.
Violence: Sounds of a gunshot are heard. A newscast reports the shooting of several people. A man points a gun at himself and later at his child but is stopped before he can kill her. A character is in a coma after being pushed over a railing and falling down a flight of stairs. A woman repeatedly stabs another woman in the chest. Blood injuries are depicted several times. Characters are chased and attacked by a ghost like character. Blood runs down the wall. Numerous moments of peril and jump scenes occur. A child eats moths.
Sexual Content: A couple becomes amorous and begins kissing. A woman is relieved to discover she is not expecting after taking a pregnancy test. A woman wears low cut tank tops.
Language: The script includes numerous profanities, terms of Deity and one strong sexual expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are briefly shown drinking. A man is distraught after running out of his prescription medicine.
Page last updated May 26, 2016
Mama Parents' Guide
What elements are always found in a horror movie? How can a director use these creatively to build suspense? What role does the musical score play in generating tension?
What leads the father in this movie to murder his business partners and wife before preparing to kill his children? What other stresses can cause people to contemplate suicide or murder? Where can individuals turn for help?
How did the girls’ ages at the time of their disappearance impact their ability to integrate back into society?
The most recent home video release of Mama movie is May 7, 2013. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Mama
Release Date: 7 May 2013
Mama releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Digital Copy) with the following extras:
- Deleted Scenes
- Original short with introduction by Guillermo del Toro and optional commentary with Andy and Barbara Muschietti
- The Birth of Mama
- Feature Commentary: Audio commentary with Andy and Barbara Muschietti
- Matriarcal Secrets
Related home video titles:
After the death of her sister, a single woman is given the (easier) responsibility of caring for her nieces and nephew in Raising Helen. Another child is left to raise itself in the movie Nell. And a family is not as alone as they first believe in the thriller, The Others.