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Mama - Blu-ray Review

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Mama - Blu-ray Review

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3 stars

Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, Andy Muschietti’s Mama is not unlike an atmospheric fairy tale.  It’s focused on a pair of orphaned siblings left to fend for themselves for five years.  They aren’t alone, though.  The spindly figure in the billowing in the deep shadows is, more or less, their mother and she loves her kids oh so much.  Dark and disturbing, Mama stands on a pair of scrawny legs and delivers – while wavering a bit in its over-the-top final act – a horror film that should please fans of old school scares.

Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lily’s (Isabelle Nelisse) father (Nikolaj Costner-Waldau) has gone off the deep end.  After killing his boss, a co-worker, and his wife, he collects the two of them and starts driving recklessly across a snow-covered highway that wraps around a mountain.  There’s a gun in the seat next to him.  Where he’s heading is anybody’s guess.

After crashing the car, he drags his kids toward an abandoned (and obligatory) cabin in the woods.  It is not vacant.  What’s inside is not willing to share the kids either.  After saving the kids from their father, Mama – a wispy gravity-defying spirit – claims ownership of their well-being.

Five years later, they are discovered and the traumatized sisters – now crawling around the floor, hopping like dogs, and growling – are returned to civilization in the care of their Uncle Lukas (also played by Costner-Waldau) and his punk-rock girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain).  Mama is none too pleased with this arrangement.

She makes her anger known.

This “mother’s” love is as mysterious as Barbera Muschietti’s backstory-laden script.  While her brother – the director – shoots the film with a couple of gamey shock sequences, the creative duo – and writer Neil Cross – assemble a movie where the monster is just as haunted as its poor victims.  The now-rescued girls are seeing a child psychiatrist (played by Daniel Kash) but they don’t really fight against their re-entry into the world.  They see him to describe their survival and what he discovers is that Mama is still watching…

Mama is creepy to say the least.  This is an atmospheric gem that almost rises above the lapses in logic the dictate some of the script’s faults.  Easily, the how and why of the kids’ survival is questioned and a title montage of children’s drawings doesn’t quell the questions either.  Lukas has spent five years and drained his bank account of his money looking for the kids.  Five years?  It never seems – in his brother’s ill-fated fit of violent rage – that he never took them that far away from home.    He must have.  Again, five long years they’ve been in that cabin.

The real gem is Chastain’s performance.  She goes from a rocker without a care in the world to the emotional rock of the picture.  She remains sane while the world and all its shadows come descending upon her suddenly enlarged brood.  She has half-scared moments that are often as soulful as the way the picture is shot.  She keeps things understated and delicate and – with a cropped and black-dyed haircut – fresh as the picture descends into familiar territory before its overbearing and unsettling finale.

Mama opens with a “Once Upon a Time” scrawl and closes atop the wings of a moth.  It’s both maternal and perplexing.  This is a graceful horror film that – outside of a few gimmicky moments – satisfies those equipped with a horror heart.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Mama - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements.
Runtime:
100 mins
Director
: Andrés Muschietti
Writer: Neil Cross, Andrés Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau; Megan Charpentier; Isabelle Nélisse;  Daniel Kash
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Mama
Memorable Movie Quote: "A ghost is an emotion bent out of shape, condemned to repeat itself time and time again."
Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
www.mamamovie.com
Release Date: January 19, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 7, 2013

Synopsis: Guillermo del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their parents were killed. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something still wants to come tuck them in at night.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Mama - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 7, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish, French
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; iTunes digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A, B

The audio and video for Mama will please fans. The 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio is simply gorgeous.  A lot of the film is obviously in the dark. This doesn't hinder the viewer from seeing everything they're supposed to.The picture is clean and clear although it has a bleak color palette splashed with autumn tones every once in a while.  The detail is crisp, with very clean closeups. The colors are well saturated and quite bold, especially in the interiors of the house.  The 5.1 surround sound will have you jumping out of your seat at every bang, sudden musical burst, and groan seeping out of the speakers.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Director/Co-writer Andrés Muschietti and Producer/Co-writer Barbara Muschietti contribute to the feature-length commentary.  It’s an informative track that explains how the film – originally a 5-minute scary as hell short – found new life as a feature.

Special Features:

There's a good amount of bonus material provided for the Blu-ray release of Mama. The original short film is featured with an introduction by Guillermo del Toro. Two featurettes entitled "Matriarchal Secrets: The Visual Effects of Mama" and “The Birth of Mama" are found. Six deleted scenes are included with optional commentary.

  • The Birth of Mama (10 min)
  • Original Short (5 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (8 min)
  • Matriarchal Secrets: The Visual Effects of Mama (6 min)

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