Posts Tagged ‘Mama’


7834584Mothers in movies are often portrayed as warm, loving nurturers, unless the movie is produced by horror meister Guillermo Del Toro. In “Mama,” a new supernatural thriller starring Jessica Chastain, the title character is a vengeful spirit, more Mommie Dearest than Mother Goose.

“Mama” begins with the meltdown of a businessman who kills his partners, his ex-wife and kidnaps his two small kids, Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lily (Isabelle Nélisse) Desange, (rhymes with derange), taking them to a remote cabin in the woods. The first clue that something ghostly is going on comes when little Victoria says, “Daddy, there’s a woman outside and she’s not touching the floor!”

Soon Dada is out of the picture and the girls are presumed missing by everyone except their Uncle Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who spends five years searching for them. When they’re found they’re worse for wear—feral kids who have survived with the help of a supernatural nanny they call Mama. Uncle Luke and Aunt Annabelle (Chastain) try to give them a normal life, but Mama is still a nightmare.

The people you expect in this kind of movie—the expert, the meddler, the spooky record clerk who knows more about the supernatural than the average person (“A ghost is an emotion bent out of shape… looking to right a wrong.”)—are all present and they do the things people do in these kinds of movies—explore remote haunted places at night with only a flashlight for protection, and stare creepily into space.

So no surprises there, but “Mama” does have some nice subtle creepy reveals—all is not what it appears to be—a vivid dream sequence and, of course, the ethereal Mama, who occasionally resembles a giant hairball on the floor, but is eerie nonetheless.

“Mama” is spooky rather than scary, but has appropriately creepy kids—the little one even scurries around the floor on all fours like a tiny silverback gorilla—and enough jolts to earn a recommend.

Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘horrible’ childhood at the root of his dark movies By Richard Crouse Metro Canada January 16, 2013

imgguillermo-del-toro1When I ask Guillermo Del Toro why his films often feature kids as main characters his answer is upfront, open and a little surprising.

“I had a horrible childhood, emotionally,” says the director of The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. “I was not a child who was beaten or locked in a closet, but I really have a very intense relationship with the horror of Catholic guilt and the dogma. My grandmother was like Piper Laurie in Carrie. I was like a chubby version of Carrie. It was very difficult for me to get over that.

“I jokingly say I spent 40 years trying to recuperate from the first eight, but to a degree it is true. I really suffered intensely in the first 10 years of my life. I would cry at the concept of burning in hell, or the concept of purgatory and original sin.

Mexican Catholicism is very, very brutal and very, very gory. That all affected me.”

Mama, his latest producorial effort, is a spooky tale of two abandoned girls raised by a supernatural nanny. Del Toro came to the story after seeing a three-minute short film by director Andrés Muschietti.

“The short is brilliant,” he says. “Atmospheric and creepy. You can see a storytelling will. You can see a voice. There is a filmmaker in that short.

“Very often you see shorts that are glossy but have very little to say. Or they’re really intense and interesting but they are badly done. But this short had the perfect balance of form, function and story.”

Muschietti is just the latest director to be discovered and mentored by Del Toro, who himself was given a helping hand by people like James Cameron.

“I’ve been very, very blessed by finding good people who believed in me at the right time. Obviously I try and pay it forward. Right now I’m 48-years-old and have been doing this for 30-something years, 20 directing. I’ve been able to produce close to 20 movies between Mexico and America and Spain and I would say in 99 per cent of the cases it has been really, really beautiful. A couple of cases it has been hard or the movie has been disappointing but Mama is one of the good ones I am really proud of.”