Plot

Guillermo del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their mother was murdered. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something still wants to come tuck them in at night. The day their father killed their mother, sisters Victoria and Lilly vanished near their suburban neighborhood. For five long years, their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), have been madly searching for them. But when, incredibly, the kids are found alive in a decrepit cabin, the couple wonders if the girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home. (c)Universal

Rating

Storyline
 
 
 
 
 


Acting
 
 
 
 
 


Directing
 
 
 
 
 


Cinematography
 
 
 
 
 


Costumes
 
 
 
 
 


Score
 
 
 
 
 


Overall
 
 
 
 
 


Film information

Genre: ,
 
Director:
 
Starring: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
 
Studio:
 
Release date: Jan 18, 2013
 
MPAA rating: Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements
 
Runtime: 100 min
 
Movie Reviews:
  • 75
    Movie Nation - by Roger Moore
    Horror is all about that short-circuit the screen's technical manipulations cause in our brain, so this isn't high art. But Mama is easily the most moving, most chilling ghost story since "Insidious," an emotional tale efficiently and affectingly told. ...read more

  • 75
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch - by Kevin C. Johnson
    The finale is heavy on CGI. But it never takes away from this respectable entry into the horror genre that values chills over kills. ...read more

  • 75
    San Francisco Chronicle - by Mick LaSalle
    Mama is skillfully made, and although Chastain is the best thing in it, she's not the only thing in it. ...read more

  • 75
    Philadelphia Inquirer - by Steven Rea
    An effectively spooky ghost story with Guillermo del Toro's imprimatur (he's executive producer), Mama is every adoptive parent's nightmare: What if the children you bring home start eating moths and toilet paper, and won't come out from under the bed? And when they do, it's only to do something hurtful? ...read more

  • 75
    Charlotte Observer - by Lawrence Toppman
    Muschietti does an excellent job of revealing just enough about Mama as we go along (and just enough of Mama herself) to show he's in control of this genre. ...

  • 75
    Chicago Sun-Times - by Richard Roeper
    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. ...read more

  • 75
    Entertainment Weekly - by Emily Rome
    Nothing in the movie is quite original, yet Muschietti, expanding his original short, knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve. ...read more

  • 70
    Slate - by Dana Stevens
    Like most haunted-house stories, Mama gets steadily less scary as its (for the most part, fairly predictable) secrets unfold. But even if the beats are familiar, Muschietti sustains a remarkable mood throughout: wintry, elemental and stark, like a late Sylvia Plath poem. ...read more

  • 70
    New York Magazine (Vulture) - by David Edelstein
    The plotting isn't fresh, and the politics are a tad reactionary, but the movie is also shapely, rounded, satisfying - a classical ghost story. ...read more

  • 70
    The Hollywood Reporter - by Todd McCarthy
    Mama represents a throwback and a modest delight for people who like a good scare but prefer not to be terrorized or grossed out. ...read more

  • 67
    Film.com - by Stephanie Zacharek
    Mama is one of those pictures that holds you aloft on its vaporous mood of dread – the occasional silliness of the plot mechanics don’t matter so much. ...read more

  • 67
    Austin Chronicle - by Louis Black
    Haunting and extremely atmospheric, Mama is a horror film imbued with an unsettling and affecting power. ...read more

  • 63
    ReelViews - by James Berardinelli
    Narrative weakness and bad horror tropes get in the way and Mama's ending disappoints. ...read more

  • 63
    New York Post - by Kyle Smith
    First-time writer-director Andy Muschietti, an Argentine discovered by Guillermo del Toro, relies too much, especially in the early going, on horror clichés (sudden loud noises and jagged blasts of music), but he does make the tension hum. ...read more

  • 63
    Rolling Stone - by Peter Travers
    Chastain digs deep, going beyond the call of scream-queen duty to find the passion that gives horror a pulse. ...read more

  • 60
    Wall Street Journal - by Joe Morgenstern
    Mama itself is above average as a piece of filmmaking, even if its scare quotient is middling or below. That's OK with me. I was content to be impressed by the skill of the first-time director, Andrés Muschietti; absorbed by the performances and smitten by some startling images. ...read more

  • 60
    Time Out New York - by Keith Uhlich
    Expertly conjured atmosphere only gets Muschietti so far, but there's enough genuine promise here that you're willing to cut this talented newcomer some slack. ...read more

  • 58
    NPR - by Ian Buckwalter
    What more often sinks Mama is, well, Mama herself. Much like another recent homage to a spookier era of horror, 2011's "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" - which, like Mama, was executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro - Muschietti's film shows its monster too early and too often. ...read more

  • 50
    Los Angeles Times - by Betsy Sharkey
    Beautifully envisioned, badly constructed, the only truly terrifying things in the new horror movie Mama are the fake tattoos, short black hair and black T-shirts meant to turn "Zero Dark Thirty" star Jessica Chastain into a guitar-shredding, punk rocker chick. ...

  • 50
    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) - by Adam Nayman
    The film's long middle section is basically "Paranormal Activity" sans that series' handicam aesthetic, as things go bump in the night and the grown-ups take forever to get their act together. ...read more

  • 50
    Portland Oregonian - by Marc Mohan
    The visual design of Mama is effective, at least in small, quick doses. But those are about all the positives for this example of why a solid audition reel doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to churn out a feature. ...read more

  • 50
    Boston Globe - by Tom Russo
    The frustration, though, is how much the movie leans on made-ya-jump scares and contrived plot devices when its quieter chills and already fraught setups are so potent. ...read more

  • 50
    Arizona Republic - by Bill Goodykoontz
    The atmosphere is appropriately creepy, and there are some starts, if not outright scares...But it just gets stupid. ...

  • 50
    Variety - by Justin Chang
    Mama, for all her digital and prosthetic creepiness, is finally a bit of a bore. ...

  • 50
    New York Observer - by Rex Reed
    Trading in her red locks for kohl-lined eyes like a raccoon and the vampire look of Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, [Chastain] is the spookiest thing in Mama. Everything else is cable television. ...read more

  • 40
    The Guardian - by Xan Brooks
    It has been converted into a proficient, machine-tooled horror flick, stuffed full of shocks and buttressed with back-story. Mama got so flabby the second time around. ...read more

  • 40
    Time - by Mary Pols
    Mama is clumsily written and choppily edited, but Chastain doesn't have a bad scene in it, and you can see why she chose to be in this supernatural ghost story. ...read more

  • 40
    New York Daily News - by Joe Neumaier
    If you're going to have a ghost in your movie, it might be a good thing to present a viable alternative to that ghost. Mama, however, presents a battle between two not very good options before crumbling like a sheet on a string. ...read more

  • 40
    Village Voice - by Melissa Anderson
    Mama never delivers the primal terror its premise would suggest. ...read more

  • 33
    The Playlist - by Erik McClanahan
    By the time the ridiculous child psychologist character encounters a government employee with a convenient bounty of useful information, Mama just becomes laughable, then annoying. ...read more

  • 12
    Slant Magazine - by Ed Gonzalez
    The premise isn't even worthy of executive producer Guillermo del Toro, who will apparently lend his name to any film as long as it fulfills its quota of moths and vulvic openings. ...read more

Movie images
User Comments & Reviews

  1. Mark Beckford

    A creepy and mostly original ghost story. Jennifer Chastain is excellent as the goth and reluctant surrogate mother … a nice change from the suburban mom that is more typical for these character types. The youngest actress who plays “Lily” does a great job juxtaposing cute and creepy as the most screwed up “wildling.” You can clearly see Guillermo Del Toro’s influence given his obsession with bugs. There is too much use of “The Grudge’s” groaning sound effect — someone needs to come up with a new and more original sound. When they eventually show “Mama” in all her glory it starts looking a bit cheesy. But of the three similar titles put out in the last six months (Sinister, The Possession), this is the best of the lot.