My friends and I often gather together to watch a horror film or two every couple of months. Mostly because we’re all too scared to watch anything alone if it has even the slightest hint of the horror genre; we’re such wusses. But, we can’t help but watch them. The genre is absolutely fascinating and personally is the genre I enjoy watching the most at the cinema; it seems like an event. Being gathered in a room with a group of equally unsuspecting viewers, and being able to feel the tension in the cinema as something is about to happen, and then the resulting screams; it’s such fun.
The latest horror we watched was ‘Mama’. We didn’t know much about it other than a couple of kids get found in the woods after being lost for a few years and some creepy things start happening because they brought something back from the woods with them. Turns out these two young girls were ‘looked after’ in the woods by Mama; a dead 19th century woman, and this is the spirit which accompanies them back to their Uncle’s house when they are found.
Everyone thinks that they ‘know’ the horror genre, the expected tropes and story lines and ‘Mama’ was a mix of these and something surprisingly fresh. The first half of the film felt exciting and tense and mysterious. I was never quite sure what to be more afraid of, ‘Mama’ the spirit which became angry when any adult attempted to take care of or become close to the two children. Or the youngest child, Lilly, who could barely speak and ran around like those creatures out of ‘The Descent’; terrifying.
Another surprising element to ‘Mama’ is that the acting was actually good. I usually live by the rule ‘if there are famous actors in a horror, it will not be scary’. If there are famous actors in it then it is usually more of a suspense or a thriller, not a good horror. And so I was surprised to learn that Jessica Chastain (now an Oscar nominated actress) starred and that the film didn’t suck.
However, after the first half things really started to go down hill. Once you visibly saw Mama, it wasn’t scary any more. It ruined the tension, the suspense and the thrill of not knowing. I honestly think I could have created something more scary on MS Paint when I was 10 years old. Seeing Mama completely ruined the film for me and I could no longer take it seriously. Their Mama creation reminded me of the terrifying creature in ‘Rec 2’ (the scariest film to date, IMO) but they got lost along the way when trying to inject a sympathetic side to the possessive mother role.
If there was a way for them to have continued the film without showing you Mama, I believe I would have liked it a whole lot more. And with Guillermo del Toro involved I have to say I expected better.
However, the film must have resonated with me as a few weeks after seeing it, my own mother read out a story (read about it here) in the newspaper about 2 men living in the Vietnam Forest for 40 years without any human contact… safe to say I couldn’t sleep that night for fear that they’d brought back an actual Mama.
What did you think of ‘Mama’? Do you have any horror film recommendations for me?