There’s no real relief in Mama, the full-length directorial debut for Andrés Muschietti, which was also produced by famed horror man Guillermo Del Toro. From the start things look bad for little girls Victoria and Lilly (Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse), whose father seems distraught. He eventually crashes the car and takes the girls into the woods, hoping to kill them. Instead a strange and mysterious force takes the crazy parent away, leaving the girls to fend for themselves for years in the woods.
Eventually, the two are found and end up in the home of their father’s brother, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his live-in girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain in a selfish, tough-girl sort of role). Things are rocky from the start with the new little family and soon a series of events brings horror into the household that would scare the living bejesus out of anyone, and does for the characters in the film. The two little wild girls, especially, bring an added creep factor to the plotline.
Of course, the mystery could never be explained without the help of a scientist sort who gets to the root of the trouble. The girls’ psychiatric caretaker, Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash), begins noticing odd behaviors in the girls’ drawings and the eye contact they implement during interviews and is eventually able to draw some conclusions from the behaviors. There may be some general horror tropes in Mama, but it is all used effectively, bringing the right level of scares and revelations to keep viewers invested throughout the entire tenure of the film.
You can order Mama over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: While deleted scenes are always appreciated, the best extra is the original short for the film. While wilder and far more campy than anything we ever get in the theatrical version, the short sort of marks the blueprint for the film that came later and sort of sets up the relationship of the two sisters with the ghostly and ghastly creature they call “Mama.”
Additionally, audio commentary for the short is also available. In the audio commentary, Andy Muschietti and Barbara discuss how they put together the short and even poke a little fun at the limitations they encountered when shooting the short film. Del Toro also pops up to discuss how he became involved and invested in the project. If you like the film, there are plenty of interesting bonus features, but the original short is one of the more unique ones.
Other Special Features:
Feature Commentary with Andres Muschietti and Barbara Muschietti
“The Birth of Mama” “Matriarchal Secrets:The Visual Effects of Mama”