Mama - disgruntled spirits, creepy kids and effects
After an accident in which their father dies two young girls become feral, when they are rescued they are looked after by their uncle and his girlfriend, soon it becomes apparent that their survival was due to a spirit who won't let them go and the terror begins.
Thankfully the child actors are impressive, actor Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau is excellent in the dual role of the uncle and his twin although his screen time is sporadic. Lead roles include an almost unrecognisable Jessica Chastain as Annabel along with Daniel Kash as the doctor. There's also a strong supporting cast of worn faces, for a horror film the acting is far above average.
As supernatural thriller the first half is finely crafted by director Andrés Muschietti and packed with tension and chills. The sound design and music by Fernando Velázquez complement the scares and eeriness. However, the second half chooses to reveal the ghost too often and steals the fright factor of what Muschietti had created earlier, especially in the closing.
What starts as an intriguing mystery with genuine creepiness unravels becoming a special effects fest by the end (more finely tuned but reminiscent of The Nun (2005) effects). Mama is a solid ghost story with an interesting premise that revolves around the two girls and the back story of Mama. There's a cabin in the wood, a large house with a disgruntled spirit, creepy kids, the clichés are there but they are delivered efficiently. Nevertheless, Andrés & Barbara Muschietti's story leaves a few niggling questions unanswered, not around the antagonistic 'Mama' but some of the other characters.
Overall Mama is special effects laden which is a shame considering the added intricacies and strong retelling of a classic-esque ghost story. Still it's a strong well made addition to the genre.