For the next 31 days, we here at Adamantium Bullet will be reviewing one horror flick a day leading up to Halloween. Each one will be horrific, terrifying, chilling, pulse-pounding, or flat-out awful. All endured in honor of the season. Expect SPOILERS. Welcome to Adamantium Bullet’s 31 DAYS OF HORROR.
PLOT: Writer/Director Guillermo del Toro presents this supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their parents were killed. When the young sisters (Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse) are found alive in a decrepit cabin, their uncle (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend (Jessica Chastain) take them in. As they try to introduce the children to a normal life, Annabel (Chastain) begins to wonder if the traumatized girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home.
BODY COUNT: 9. Jeff (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) murders two co-workers and his wife off-screen in the first minute of MAMA, after which the titular character gets ahold of him and snaps his neck. Mama (Javier Botet) then goes on to drop Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse) and her own baby off a cliff, break Dr. Dreyfuss’s (Daniel Kash) neck, stab a nun with a sewing needle, and possess-kill Jean (Jane Moffat).
MOST MEMORABLE KILL: The demise of Dr. Dreyfuss was a creepy little bit, what with the periodic flashes from his digital camera illuminating the grisly deed.
NAKEDNESS: Nothing other than a brief moment of hunky shirtless action from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and a whole lotta cleavage from Jessica Chastain.
SIGNATURE MOMENT: It’s a draw between the creepy game of “Tug Of War” between Lilly and Mama, or the absolutely brutal pre-credits sequence where Jeff murders three people and inadvertently abandons his two children in the woods …in the middle of winter …after he was about to kill the two of them …before Mama killed him. Take your pick.
IDIOT MOMENT: Almost all of the main adult characters in MAMA (Annabel, Jeff, and Dreyfuss) were surprisingly chill about the weird moth-filled black stains appearing on the walls. Oh and that trio also went out, at different points, to investigate a creepy cabin in the woods in the middle of the night. Why not do that sh*t during the day?
“WTF?!?” MOMENT: There is a creepy old man lurking in the background of the first scene with Dreyfuss and Louise (Diane Gordon) at the Public Records building. Once you see him, you cannot unsee him.
USELESS KNOWLEDGE: Isabelle Nélisse can't speak English, which is why she's not given much dialogue and speaks more with body language.
> Mama's movement is not entirely CGI. Actor Javier Botet has well-above-average range of motion in his joints. The only CGI on Mama is her hair.
> According to Jessica Chastain, Annabel's octopus tattoo describes her character. When Annabel found herself caught in a situation she did not like, such as the octopus, she would take off her tentacles and grow new tentacles to escape.
> Clifton Forge, Virginia, is a real place, as is Douthat State Park where the lake/cabins mentioned in the movie are located, which is about 10 miles away in Bath County, Virginia. The stand-in main street is even very similar. The actual town, however, is not 9 miles down a dirt/gravel road. In reality, it has direct access to Interstate 64, the same Interstate that passes through Richmond. It is also the only town in the world with that unique name.
> The USELESS KNOWLEDGE portion of this review was provided by IMDB.
Here is the short film that inspired MAMA: