On Wednesday night I went to see Mama, and it was certainly an entertaining film.
On the onset of the 2008 financial crisis, a distraught man, Jeffrey, kills his business partners and estranged wife before taking his children – three-year old Victoria and one-year old Lilly – away from home. Driving dangerously fast on a snowy road, the car slides off and crashes in the woods. Surviving the crash, Jeffrey takes the children into an abandoned cabin. Planning to kill his daughters and commit suicide, he holds a gun to Victoria’s head. Just then, a shadowy figure pulls him out of the door, snapping his neck. The girls survive by the fireside and are tossed a cherry by the mysterious figure.
Five years later, a rescue party, sponsored by Jeffrey’s brother, Lucas, find the children alive but animal-like in their behavior. The girls are put in a welfare clinic under the psychiatric care of Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss agrees to support Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel’s custody claim against the girls’ maternal great-aunt Jean. Dreyfuss is intrigued by the drawings the girls have made of a mysterious character they call “Mama”, whom they talk to and play with. During an intimate moment between Lucas and Annabel one night, Annabel is startled by the appearance of a shadowed figure in their bedroom doorway; while investigating, Lucas is attacked by Mama and slides into a comatose state. Annabel, a punk-rock musician unrelated to the girls, finds herself left alone to care for them while Mama’s visits continue. Although Annabel makes progress with Victoria, she finds Lilly hostile. Alarmed by nightmares and a warning about “Mama’s jealousy”, Annabel asks Dr. Dreyfuss to investigate.
Dr. Dreyfuss initially believes “Mama” to be a creation of Victoria’s mind. However, his research corroborates Victoria’s story that Mama is an aggrieved mother separated from her child and brings to light the story of Edith Brennan, a mental asylum patient in the 1800s. Dreyfuss recovers a box of a dead child’s remains, and has his first encounter with Mama while interviewing Victoria. Annabel has a nightmare about Mama’s past; Mama had committed suicide by jumping off a cliff after stealing her baby from the nuns who had separated them. While falling, Mama’s child was snagged on a branch and killed on impact, while Mama fell into the water. Annabel realizes Mama never knew what happened to the child and has been searching for her; she sees Victoria and Lilly as substitutes. Lucas regains consciousness after having a disturbing vision of his dead brother Jeffrey telling him to go to the cabin in the woods. Annabel and the girls are visited by Jean, who, alarmed by some bruises on the girls, tries to get Annabel investigated for abusing them. Victoria’s growing closeness with Annabel makes her less willing to play with Mama, unlike Lilly, who still prefers Mama to Annabel.
Dr. Dreyfuss visits the cabin to research Mama’s presence, and upon trying to photograph her, is attacked and killed. Finding him missing, Annabel steals the girls’ case files from his office. She learns that Edith and Mama are the same person, while Lucas leaves the hospital to search for the cabin. Shortly after she makes a breakthrough with Victoria, Annabel and the girls are attacked by a jealous Mama, who subdues Annabel, possesses the body of Aunt Jean, who had broken into the house for evidence of abuse, and escapes with the girls. Upon regaining consciousness, Annabel takes the box bearing the remains of Mama’s child and heads for the woods, where she meets Lucas. The couple spot the children on a nearby cliff, where Mama (who killed Jean) is preparing to relive her suicide by taking Victoria and Lilly with her over the cliff. Annabel offers Mama the remains of her child, and the angry spirit undergoes a more peaceful transformation, appearing human again. But when Lilly calls out for her, Mama returns to her terrifying form and attacks, discarding the remains of her child. After a desperate struggle, Annabel has just enough strength to hold on to Victoria who decides to stay with her and Lucas, while Lilly cries that she and her sister should be with Mama. Mama encases herself and Lilly in a cocoon and jumps off the cliff, hitting the same branch she did in the 1800s. Upon impact, she and Lilly turn into a shower of moths. While hugging Annabel and Lucas, Victoria notices a blue and black butterfly land on her hand, which she believes to be Lilly.
The film itself was average. Personally, I didn’t find it that shocking or scary, and it didn’t make me jump once – which seems to defeat the purpose of a horror film. However, it did make me laugh – so at least it was still entertaining in some way. It’s an odd one, but it was alright overall.
Thanks for reading.