Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Throw Mama (2013) From the Train

I think Sinister (2012) taught me a valuable lesson of not building up a film too much in my head. If I go in expecting nothing then I'm less likely to be disappointed and maybe even enjoy it a bit more. So going into the movie theatre Monday night with my friend I expect a fun if flawed ghost-y story. And boy, oh, boy did Mama not disappoint, but not in the traditional way. Mama is a few tonal shifts away from being a Kids in the Hall sketch. Based on the short film Mama, the original filmmakers struggle to turn it into a 100 minute filmic adventure until the last 15 minutes. But let's not get a head of ourselves.

Mama opens with a news report about the economic collapse a few years ago (you can almost hear the filmmakers screaming WE'RE RELEVANT!! from the audience) and a banker type kills his wife and drives his two young (and impossibly cute) daughters to the woods where they stumble on a cabin. The father is about to shoot one of them because, y'know... and an unseen force or entity kills him. Cut to a few years later and the guy's brother Luke is still looking for his nieces. He's dating Annabelle who sneaks in the fact that she doesn't want kids into every sentence. They find the girls in the cabin in the woods and they bring them back to the city be rehabilitated. Luke and Annabelle take them in but this Mama ghost is still following them around, hanging out in the closet, playing with them, giving them a sense of comfort. She's basically a creepy babysitter until the ghost goes all, I won't be ignored and sends Luke into a coma leaving Annabelle to fend for herself.


Then the girls start to like Annabelle and then Mama gets pissed, apparently possesses their aunt who drives them (I think, this part is really poorly explained) back to the cabin then Mama is about jump off a cliff with the two girls. But Annabelle and Luke (oh yeah, his coma got better) show up and the older girl is all like, no I love them!! And Mama gets pissed, there's a lot of hand to hand combat with the ghost (yup) and then Mama takes the younger girl and they jump off the cliff together and turn into butterflies. Mother-fucking-butterflies. I wish so much there has been an additional scene at the end where Annabelle and Luke had to explain what happened to the younger girl to Family Services. There's also a plot with Daniel Kash who's the girls' psychiatrist. He figures out that Mama is the ghost of a crazy lady from the 1800s. He dies because Mama punches him really hard... or something.

My biggest problem with Mama is why did no one hit her with a bat? Or a chair? Or punch her? It didn't make any goddamn sense. And I kept thinking of this scene.

While I don't advocate physical violence they just needed to explain it. To wit:

LUKE: Why didn't you just hit her in the last scene?

ANNABELLE: It's like a strip club Luke. She can touch us but we can't touch her.

See? Bam! Explained!

Mama is an exercise in waste talented. Director Andres Muschietti creates some really inventive set ups but there's a lot of slack in the film. 80% of it is jump scares, 10% slow moving tracking shots and 10% bat-shit stupid plot. Go back to the original short and save yourself an evening. You can use your newly freed time to see your family, or something.

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