This review of Mama (2013) was originally published on September 23, 2013 at Talkbacker. I’m reposting it today on the Supernaughts in “honour” of Mother’s Day. This one goes out to all the evil psychotic murderous bitch mothers that are hopefully burning in hell. Enjoy.
Mama is a condescending, insensitive piece of shit that intimately condones child murder. Not only that, it even goes so far as to suggest that killing your child is a mother’s right. I’m dead serious. This film is God damn disgraceful and respectable parents the world over should ban together to condemn this unethical trash for what it is before it has the chance to insert more psychotic ideas into the minds of unfit parents.
Nice lede, huh? Nonetheless, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The majority of this tripe doesn’t go down until right at the very end, so first I’ll quickly rundown the lesser issues of Mama and then provide a very brief synopsis of the main plot points that bring us to said insufferable ending.
The acting performances are below-average overall. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) are underwhelming and certainly capable of better. The two child actors are actually pretty good, but the rest of the cast is laughable, especially Daniel Kash. His portrayal of the psychiatrist is overly camp and goes completely against the tone of the film, basically ruining any scene he’s involved in.
Story wise it features plenty of predictable clichés and common moments of idiocy that continue to plague the majority of horror films. The pacing is sluggish due to needless subplots and the film runs too long considering how little story there is.
Some good exists, such as an intriguing opening and fairly effective camerawork combined with an interesting score. This creates an appropriately gloomy atmosphere during the first half that adequately covers up the film’s early faults. But even those minor positives unravel during the second half as the camera starts to reveal too much, too often and the mood changes gears into a race against time.
With that out of the way, I’ll now be heading into massive spoiler territory, so if you’re still planning on watching Mama (don’t), turn back now. Here’s a quick point-by-point overview that gets us to the ending, which is what this review is focused on.
- Daddy (Waldau) kills co-workers and mommy before fleeing the city with daughters Victoria, age three, and Lilly, age one. Soon arrive at creepy cabin and daddy decides to kill his kids then himself, but before he can pull the trigger, Mama kills him.
- Five years later, kids are found by daddy’s twin brother Lucas (also Waldau) and his faux-lesbian poser punk bitch girlfriend Annabel (Chastain). Annabel’s a bitch and hates kids.
- The girls are all feral and shit from being alone, having turned into crazy fast headcrab-like creatures. Victoria is super protective of Lilly, who clings to her like a leech at all times.
- Physically the girls recover in no time, but remain emotionally scarred and believe this Mama creature helped them in the cabin all those years. A psychiatrist studies them while supporting custody for Lucas and Annabel over wealthy, more capable Aunt Jean.
- Mama starts showing up and puts Lucas in the hospital, leaving Annabel to care for the girls alone. She bitches more and wishes she was just drunk listening to the Misfits.
- Through a combination of research, hypnosis, and nightmares everyone learns that Mama is the ghost of a mental patient from the 1800s who had her child taken from her to be raised by nuns. She escapes, kills a nun, steals back her baby, and then jumps off a cliff to her death with the baby in tow.
- A ton of stupid things happen from this point on amid random jump scares and lame emotional bonding between Annabel and the girls.
- Mama kills the apparently uneducated psychiatrist while he’s searching the cabin alone in the middle of the night.
- Lucas leaves the hospital to investigate a vision from his dead brother, but doesn’t tell anyone.
- Mama goes into a jealous rage, killing Aunt Jean, the only sensible character in the film, before taking off with the kids.
- Annabel and Lucas find the girls on a cliff with Mama, the same one where Mama previously took her own life.
- Annabel whips out the remains of Mama’s actual child, which were discovered earlier. Mama reunites with her baby, the girls are saved, and we’re left with a bittersweet ending.
Well, that’s where the movie should have ended anyway. Instead, we’re treated to six additional minutes that change the outcome in such a way as to piss me off more than anything else in recent memory.
Rather than leave quietly, Lilly screams out to Mama because she’d rather be with her. This causes Mama to lose her shit and fling the bones of her own child over the cliff before attacking Lucas and Annabel. She then takes the girls by the hand and leads them to the edge of the cliff. Annabel manages to recover enough to grab Victoria and convince her to stop, but not even Victoria can convince Lilly to stay. Lilly goes with Mama while trying to convince Victoria to join them, but eventually gives up and stares lovingly into Mama’s eyes before they both plummet down the side of the cliff. Lilly dies, Mama disappears, and Victoria is left to survive with Annabel and Lucas.
As fucked as this ending is, the basic concept of it isn’t particularly offensive. Having the villain come away with a small victory is nothing new and children have been killed in movies plenty of times. The problem here isn’t what happens, but how it happens. The execution of it is downright appalling and an insult to both parents and their children.
First of all, Lilly choosing Mama over Victoria is absurd. Victoria was Lilly’s real protector throughout the entire movie. Lilly clung to Victoria all the time and there were multiple occasions where they were both scared by Mama and ran away from her. It’s ridiculous that Lilly would prefer to go with this scary ghost over her own flesh and blood sister having seen all the chaos Mama has caused, no matter how caring Mama may have been at times.
The more important screw up here though is that they portray the death of Lilly in a righteous, heavenly fashion. Lilly’s face is nothing but pure joy as she goes back with Mama and the extended moment they share together while falling towards their death is sickening. Lilly smiles and laughs while they playfully touch each other, much like a loving mother and child would. That’s just plain disgusting.
Rather than devote further attention to the shock and horror of what’s happening from the perspective of Victoria and Annabel, the sick fucks behind this film felt that it was better to depict a “happy” ending for Lilly. Director Andy Muschietti and producer Guillermo Del Toro literally thought it was happier for Lilly to die (you can read more about their idiotic sentiments here).
Aside from the fact that they infer it was super happy fun time for Lilly, the greater implication is that this crazy, deranged mother deserved to take the life of an innocent child so that they could be together, forever. Sure, maybe Mama was locked up for illegitimate reasons, it’s never truly explained why she was in the insane asylum, but one can assume that if you kill a nun, your child, and yourself, you very likely were batshit insane and the child being taken from you was a wise decision.
Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s cool for mommy to kill her babies, but not daddy. The scene at the beginning where the father attempted to kill Victoria was wonderfully handled. It had more tension and emotion than any other point in the film. Then the ending slapped this in the face. The early message was that nothing justifies the killing of your own children, but then the ending said nah, that’s cool, you can kill them if you’re the mother and they’re OK with it.
Finally, as if to rub it in that Lilly is better off dead with Mama, they have her return in the final moments as a fucking moth. No reuniting with your actual loving mother, you know, the one who was killed in cold blood to start the film. Sure, Lilly never really knew her, being only one when she died, but I’d like to think she’d be better off with her than with Mama. Fuck that though, you’re gonna chill as a moth and probably haunt your sister for all eternity.
OK, full disclosure, maybe this film hit a little too close to home for me. I’ve been a father for seven months now and the thought of anyone taking his life is nauseating. I wouldn’t do it, my wife wouldn’t do it, and any sane, loving parent would feel the same way about their own. However, even if I wasn’t a dad, I’d still have issues with the messages conveyed in this film due to my own mother.
You see, much like Mama herself, my mother was also a psychotic bitch that killed herself and took my one year old brother with her. However, unlike Mama, she wasn’t locked up and stripped of her rights to the child despite evidence that supported it, but I digress. In the end, she had no right to do what she did, nor should anyone.
To imply that the despicable act of child murder is acceptable in any form shows a complete lack of respect for your audience and public morality in general. Muschietti, Del Torro, and anyone else associated with this garbage should be ashamed of themselves.