And you think your mother has issues

Visually stunning and mysteriously crafted, “Mama” is a ghostly tale that will elevate your imagination and haunt your dreams. 

Executive producer, Guillermo Del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy”) is one of the few big names attached to this film that will have fans eager to find out what’s in store this time around. 

With a solid cast and an intriguing storyline, fans of the horror genre are in for a refreshing fable with old school scares. 

The opening scene takes off with a noisy radio from an empty car sharing news of a man who has killed several business partners and his recently divorced wife—yikes! 

Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) proceeds to take his two daughters, Victoria and Lilly, and drive off somewhere. Things take a turn for the worse when Jeffrey crashes the car and takes the girls to a cabin in the woods (sound familiar?).

We get our first glimpse of ‘Mama’ when Jeffrey attempts to commit suicide, but instead is killed by a dark shadowy figure. 

Flash forward five years: Lucas, brother to Jeffrey (also Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), has been searching for his two nieces ever since. We learn the girls have miraculously survived under the care of someone or something they call ‘Mama.’ 

Lucas wants nothing more than to care for these two girls and help them recover from their extremely traumatizing experience, while his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain) is on the fence about the situation.

Added to the mix is Dr. Dreyfuss, (Daniel Kash) who points out that with enough love and affection, the girls can restore their abilities to grow into normal children (I’m not so sure about that). 

Victoria was able to retain some of her vocabulary, but the younger daughter Lilly has become almost completely feral and crawls around on all fours like an animal.

What makes this film entertaining is the use of quick, in-your-face scares, staying away from the commonly over the top gore fest films that plague the horror industry nowadays. 

Being a fan of the “Paranormal Activity” series, I could’ve done without some of the predictable suspense build up scares seen in the earlier parts of the movie (it is PG-13 after all). Luckily, as the film goes on and our curiosity starts to peak as to whom ‘Mama’ really is, the film begins to really capture the visual grace that Del Toro brings in his films.

There are a number of genuinely scary moments that may surprise even the biggest horror fans among us. 

Dream sequences occur that reveal the origins of ‘Mama’ and why she has chosen to follow and haunt these two girls, which definitely threw me a curve ball. 

The film embraced frequent shifts in tone and many scenes and dialogue contain a good amount of humor. However, while I love my horror-comedies as much as the next fan, it just felt unnecessary at times.

The film also incorporated some unexpected emotion for the horror genre, notably near the end. While the two little girls in the film can seem creepy and strange to gravitate towards, they are also adorable and sweet. I couldn’t help but notice all of the ‘awws’ being passed throughout the theatre. 

While “Mama” has its shares of ups and downs, it ultimately comes out on top in my list and is worthy of a $10 late night showing with some enthusiastic and unprepared friends.