Mama by Guillermo del Toro

Today I went to UMS to pick up my sister since it is the start of her holiday. We were planning to go straight home after she went and check herself out, but her dorm's HEP was not going to be available until 2 pm. Imagine that; it was Thursday at 10 in the morning, but these management guys wouldn't open their office during the time it should be opened. I am so glad I'm out from their terrible management system.

So my sister and I went to 1Borneo to kill some time. We ate some pancakes, bought some new movies (I finally got Assassin's Creed III, woo hoo!) and also bought some cheap stuffs from Daiso. But despite our shopping, there were still two hours away from 2 pm, and both of us were trying not to overspend ourselves. But we couldn't possibly sit for 2 hours straight at Harris or Times reading magazines. Seriously, magazines are boring. So, the most logical solution for our dilemma was to go and watch a movie. Luckily, Mama by Guillermo del Toro had just came out.

Mama is about two little girls, Victoria and Lilly, whose depressed father had just murdered their mother and kidnapped them. After an accident, the father and the girls came upon a cabin in which he tried to end his life and his daughters. But before he could murder his daughter, an unknown entity stopped and killed him. This entity went on to care for the little girls and was known as Mama by the two. Five years after, the girls- now feral- were found and brought to an institution. Their Uncle Luke and his girlfriend, Annabel, came into their custody. An agreement was made between Luke and Dr. Dreyfuss so that the girls could stay under Luke's care while Dr. Dreyfuss was allowed to conduct case study upon the two girls. Soon, all three adults began to realize that the girls might had been taken care of by a dangerous and malicious ghost, and that Mama had never left the girls' side even when they had been taken away from the cabin. 

If you've seen enough Guillermo del Toro's films, you'll see that his style- or brand as one review had put it- was obvious throughout the film. For all its worth, Mama's theme is pretty cliche which is about a mother's undying love. I won't talk much about the plot because for me it was not exactly the strongest point in the movie. Nonetheless the concept that was used here, such as feral child, depression, and motherhood were interesting and worth your time.

The production value, camera work, visual effect and music score was good, as expected from any high budget film like this. As usual, Guillermo del Toro took his time in bringing Mama's character to light, showing instead a distorted shadow playing with the girls, vague deep singing voice resounding through the air ventilation and such. The scenes in which Mama loomed at every corner was executed perfectly. I was glad they didn't do jump scares as often as you can find in many horror movies nowadays, and Mama didn't choose to just stay hidden or floated around without purpose either. 

Mama took her time revealing herself, and her presence came with reason most of the time. I really liked the fact that Mama wasn't just a ghostly entity whose entire purpose in the movie was to scare people, but rather Mama was very much a character as Annabel, Luke, and Dr. Dreyfuss were characters. The film did deliver a lot of good scares and I was anxious every time Mama appeared on the screen. This was because most of the tricks that they pulled in the film worked and that made the film so engaging. 

Apart from the scares, the characters were also developed quite well for a 1 hour 45 minutes film. There was the devoted uncle, the curious Dr. Dreyfuss, and Annabel, who despite not wanting children, came to be protective and loving to Victoria and Lilly. I also liked the child actors; they displayed their characters' emotion so well it was hard not to like them. I bet it was hard to play as feral child, especially when you needed to display the distrustful attitude. So kudos to the young actors.  

I have very little to no complain about this film. I admit there were some tired cliches- such as the unwilling mother figure Annabel- but Guillermo del Toro managed to make most of them interesting. The film did not tire me at all because there was always a sense of curiosity, emotion and tension. Plus I really love the artistic value of the film. All in all, this film is worth your time. But I do have to warn you, the ending might not be what you would expect of a horror story.