Cheap Scare Tactics
Release Date: January 18, 2013
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj
Nélisse, Daniel Kash
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/Comcast
Director: Andres Muschietti
Executive Producer: Guillermo del Toro
Producer: J. Miles Dale, Barbara
Writer: Neil Cross, Andres Muschietti,
Address Comments To:Brian L. Roberts, Chairman/CEO/President, Comcast Corp.
Stephen Burke, CEO, NBC Universal
Ron Meyer, President/COO, Universal Studios
Adam Fogelson, Chairman, Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza; Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000; Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
The movie opens with news of a national financial disaster. The father of two little girls, Victoria and Lilly, kills their mother and drives deep into the country with his daughters. After crashing over an embankment on ice-covered roads, he gets his daughters to a shack in the woods. As he prepares to shoot his eldest daughter, he’s attacked and killed by some sort of ghostly being.
The girls spend five years in the cabin provided for by the creature, whom they call Mama. When they are found, they look and move more like Gollum in LORD OF THE RINGS.
Efforts are made to restore them to civilized society. Custody of the two girls is awarded to their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his live-in girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain). They are provided a large two-story house to work on the children’s restoration.
However, “Mama” joins this budding new family, living in the walls and coming out just often enough to keep the tension level high. It turns out she lived in the 1800s and died trying to escape an asylum with her baby. She continued to haunt people, growing uglier as time goes by, because of the injustice done to her.
Any reasonable viewer would wonder why people trying to solve the mystery always search alone at night with flashlights (a great recipe for getting killed). Even worse, after several hellish experiences in a haunted house, the “heroine” continues to sleep there alone night after night. It’s almost as silly as repeatedly going to see horror shows. Of course, Mama’s full ugliness is reserved for the climax. Through most of the movie, you only get to see enough of her to justify the obligatory spooky music. It seems as if half the movie is just people in hallways or near closets threatened by a “surprise” visit from Mama.
The worst thing about the movie is that two very young girls were put in such horrible roles. It’s bad enough that writers, producers, and directors would present little girls as murder targets of their father reduced to living and behaving like animals. It’s almost beyond belief that parents would let their daughters play the parts. For the money spent on this travesty, these little girls could have been cast in something family-friendly and uplifting.
There is an audience for horror movies. Several come out every month. Some are more successful than others. What doesn’t come out often enough are uplifting family movies (many of which are very successful when they do come out). However, it probably takes more talent to create a quality family movie than another formulaic horror show like MAMA.
That said, MAMA has ample violence, some foul language, and a pagan occult worldview. Finally, it seems to contain almost every cheap horror movie trick known to man. Horror movie fans, much less the average moviegoer, won’t be impressed.
It’s bad enough that filmmakers would present little girls as murder targets of their father, and then, being reduced to living and behaving like animals. Worse, it’s almost beyond belief that parents would let their daughters play such parts. MAMA has ample violence, some foul language, and a pagan occult worldview. It also has almost every cheap horror movie trick known to man.