"Mama" brings scares along with interesting story

In the midst of so many vampire and apocalypse movies, it’s nice to finally see a horror film that breaks the mold and has an actual plot rather than relying on cheap blood and gore to do the job. Mama, a supernatural horror film directed by Andres Muschietti and starring two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, blasted into theaters on January 18 to positive reviews. The story follows Victoria and Lilly, two young girls who have been raised in an abandoned cabin by a mysterious supernatural figure they call “Mama.” After being discovered in a practically feral state, the girls are sent to live with their uncle and his rocker girlfriend (played by Chastain) under psychiatric watch. As they are eased back into humanity, a jealous “Mama” begins to make her presence known to the new family, as she reminds them that a mother’s love is forever. Much of the horror element in this movie is provided by the appearance of the children themselves. It is easy to forget that they are even human when they scamper across the kitchen counter on all fours, randomly pouncing at people while covered head to toe in dirt. To be honest, their animal-like mannerisms are just plain creepy. Mama is a nice blend of frightful anticipation and shock, leaving the audience constantly guessing at what will happen next. Muschietti plays on the viewer’s emotions, following passionate moments with sudden visits from “Mama”, or portraying a scene as humorous and innocent only for the audience to quickly realize that “Mama” is involved. The movie is an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. With all of the heart-stopping moments produced through the duration of this film, it’s hard to believe that Mama is only rated PG-13. There are some images in here that could seriously freak a person out regardless of their age. In the beginning, a father holds a gun up to his four-year old daughter’s head as he prepares to shoot her before he kills himself. That’s pretty heavy-duty stuff. Add in the CGI effects used to create “Mama”, a sinister plot and some great filmwork and you’ve got a true horror movie. With that being said, Mama isn’t 100 minutes of pure darkness. Chastain shines as a career-driven rocker who wants nothing to do with children. Her development throughout the film is what drives the story; as she starts to discover her maternal side, “Mama” becomes jealous and tries to take her down. While the tagline “A mother’s love is forever” may seem menacing, it has a comforting undertone when applied to Chastain’s character. Her growing bond with the children despite “Mama” attempting to pull them apart is what makes this movie so well made, and worth watching. *To clarify, this movie is not the beloved Mama Mia.