Synyster Graves

Spoilers: Mama

by on Nov.19, 2013, under Spoiler Alert!

** Disclaimer: This rant includes spoilers so I strongly suggest that if you do actually want to watch this film and attempt to enjoy it by all means but you should probably stop reading this article. This is not designed to ruin everyone else’s enjoyment, but stops them wasting hours of their lives on films I perceived to being a bit poo. While I may not discuss the entire plot, there will be elements whereby any attempt to create a facade by the film will be shattered. You have been warned! **

Friends are usually the most reliable source for film recommendations, and certainly when I had some friends who went to see this horror film I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Several people left the cinema it was so frightening I was told. I can see why now, because it’s shit. Mama is basically about a couple who gain custody of the bloke’s nieces, after they were found abandoned in a cabin in the woods for five years. While on the outside it seems miraculous that they survived, they have become feral and hostile. When you find out how they survived, is pretty much when you should stop watching

Why It’s Crap

While I concur that this is n’t exactly a documentary as to how children could survive such a foreboding environment, the reason is “Mama”. Initially only a shadow which seems to move around, it turns out she is the malevolent spirit of a crazy woman who dive bombed off a tall rock precipice to her doom in a lake, cradling her baby. She has manifested in the house and kept both girls alive. Her appearance started off a bit creepy, as a silhouette of branch like limbs and hair waving around as if submerged, but as most horror films trip over, then show her in full. And her appearance is hilarious. Looking like a cliche alien hewn into a sweet potato, Mama’s wonky eyes and elongated face just make her look retarded, not frightening. She does have all the staccato-ed movements of any scary spirit including weird singing, but it all falls flat when you see her trying to run and shove her twig like hands in everyone’s faces. It just becomes funny.

Mama can travel between the cabin and the house where the girls live through some kind of ruin which has appeared in the wall like some kind of awful weeping orifice which has a gateway into, yep you guessed it, the cupboard. And the cliche’s don’t stop there. In between the little girls talking to dark corners, floating around without explanation, large hordes of moths and sheets vanishing into nothing within the blink of an eye, Mama is a catalogue of horror cliches ruining any decent atmosphere they had created through dead noises and dim lighting.

The ending was just rubbish however, with the youngest one choosing to go off with Mama over the cliff edge, plummeting to her doom and turning into a load of elephant moths. While you do find out who Mama was, it’s not very interesting, and Mama even human form just looked stupid and incredibly comical.


Mama certainly seemed to have all the ingredients of a good horror story, ruined by the usual blunder of showing what the haunting creature looked like. The acting wasn’t brilliant throughout despite having Jessica Chastain of Zero Dark Thirty fame, the whole film felt rather flat and unconvincing. The plethora of predictable boo scares and weird kids wasn’t enough for me to even feel on edge, but just rather bored and amused by the strange tree woman who moved about like a wet twig in a strong breeze.

Nothing particularly happens to catch you unawares, all the scares are predictable and silly and the storyline on paper sounds like a good idea, but in practice is too far-fetched to freak even the weakest of horror wimps into hiding behind a sofa. Either don’t show the manifestation or at least make it look frightening. With today’s CGI technology it can be done simply, but the visual abomination we saw on the screen was laughable, perhaps using a graphic like the Kusabi from Fatal Frame II would have made a more terrifying spectre, but this wasn’t the case.  The kids were annoying the acting in general was bad with perhaps Jessica Chastain as an exception left you with no empathy with any characters and the ending was just woeful.



1 Comment for this entry

  • Sheryl

    It’s interesting that you mention fatal frame because I felt like I recognized elements of fatal frame in the story. The Dr. trying to photograph mama in the cabin before she killed him. Lilly jumping off the cliff into Mama’s arms like Yuuri and Ouse in fatal frame 4. The bruise on Annabel’s neck after the scary dream like Rei’s tattoo in fatal frame 3. The broken elongated arms of mama like the main ghost in fatal frame 1. And Lilly coming up as a butterfly after plummeting off the cliff similar going to her sister to Mayu in fatal frame 2.

    I agree that Mama looked ridiculous and she lost any kind of horror impact once she was shown in full. Alien x sweet potato is spot on.

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