Feature-length version of short is a supernatural tale of feral children
Picked up under Guillermo del Toro’s production wing following an utterly terrifying short film, the feature length version of Mama comes to the screen under auspicious circumstances. The film initially makes good on these promises, but as is often the case with adapted shorts, it struggles to extend successfully beyond its original conceit.
Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) and Victoria (Megan Charpentier) are two sisters who, under grisly circumstances, have been left to fend for themselves in the woods. After three years they are discovered and brought back into civilisation, where they are encouraged to reassimilate under the care of their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his rock chick girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain). Little do these ill-equipped guardians know that the girls have another, supernatural carer – one who does not take kindly to being replaced.
First time director Andrés Muschietti shows talent and confidence in the first hour, letting us catch only peripheral glimpses of the unearthly Mama while letting the excellent Nélisse and Charpentier run feral through the plot. Unfortunately both the story and the effects take a slide into silliness in the third act, as the open-ended short lurches into a melodramatic conclusion that chimes with del Toro’s taste for fairytale excesses.
General release from Fri 22 Feb.