Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mama

There have been a ton of horror movies to come out over the past few years. Sometimes you get a gem and other times you get a piece of shit, Mama is a gem. For a movie that I had absolutely no desire to see, I was really surprised that it turned out as well as it did. Really thought that this was going to be Jessica Chastain's "slumming it" movie where she is just acting for a quick paycheck, but yet again she proved why she is arguably the best actress in Hollywood.

Mama tells the story of two young girls, who are abducted by their father after he murders their mother and brought to a remote location in the woods. There they meet a "spirit" that they come to call "Mama". Their uncle, Lucas (Coster-Waldau), spends five years searching for them to no avail until the rescue crew he hired suddenly stumbles upon their cabin. There they find the young girls in an animalistic state and they are brought to a center to be rehabilitated. Lucas and his girlfriend, Annabel (Chastain), take the girls in and have to learn to become parents. The couple and the children also have to contend with the no-so-nice "Mama" that is seemingly attached to the girls and doesn't want anyone getting close to them.

I initially wrote this off as another crappy early winter release and never gave it a chance when it was in theaters. Thanks to some positive word of mouth, I decided to give it a look when it was released on Blu-Ray. I was blown away with the quality of this movie, it might not tell a completely original story but it is extremely well executed. Jessica Chastain shows up and just knocks it out of the park, just like she has been able to do in all of her major roles to this point in her career. I also have to take the time and say that she might be the sexiest woman in Hollywood at this point in time as well. Her looks and her ability make her almost unstoppable. Her character is incredibly complicated for being a horror movie protagonist and Chastain really had to do some work to sell her initially unlikable character to the audience. By the end of the movie, you will be rooting for her character every step of the way.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka Jaime Lannister, plays Chastain's boyfriend in the movie and he is initially set up to be the main protagonist but is knocked out of action for long periods in the movie. This is mainstream America's first real opportunity to see him act and he was very good given the material he had. He simply wasn't in the movie enough to make a giant impact which was a shame but you can tell this was more of a vehicle for Chastain than him. The two child actors in this movie were simply incredible. They had to act like rabid little beasts for a good portion of the movie and then they each had to showcase a variety of subtle quirks throughout the movie. Each gave a fantastic performance and I hope they get recognized at some award shows for their hard work.

This is a horror movie that is buoyed by the performances and it need to be because the effects weren't anything special. Mama could have been just as creepy with use of shadows or by using a less over the top looking creature. There was nothing really wrong with the effects, they just didn't add anything to the story for the most part. The subplot with Lucas' brother murdering his wife and then abducting his children after the financial collapse of 2008 was kind of pointless and heavy handed. This subplot could have been replaced with something much simpler and it would have had the same impact. These are small gripes for what was a solid experience overall.

If you have been looking for a solid horror movie to watch, check out Mama. The performances in the movie should be enough to justify you sitting down and watching this. Jessica Chastain is phenomenal and shows how much range she has as an actress. I feel like I could watch her act in anything and not get tired of her. Go see this ASAP.