Missing Ingredients: MAMA

Friday, January 18, 2013

 As the preview screening of Guillermo del Toro's horror film Mama, came closer and closer, the more I was tempted to cancel my reservation out of fear.  As previously mentioned, I'm too susceptible to supernatural movies.  I think it's because I believe that ANYTHING no matter how far fetched or out of this world, is possible. And this open-mindedness, combined with living alone, can really set my imagination working over-time.

But to my relief and disappointment. MAMA isn't very scary.  It's creepy, and at times disturbing, but it certainly doesn't have that melancholy, haunting, can't shake it feeling of The Orphanage, nor is it darkly sinister.  The movie is based on a short story and the thing about all short stories, what makes them work, whether they be ghostly in nature or not, is you go into them without much background, and you leave a short story with a lot of unanswered questions.  When a writer, in this case, Neil Cross, Andrés Muschietti (writer/director) and Barbara Muschietti, decides to expand on a short story, it often becomes watered down to a point where it's no longer effective.  I believe that's what happened with this film.

The movie begins with a radio news alert that a wealthy executive is wanted for the shooting of his business partners and estranged wife.  We see a disheveled, good looking man in his late 30's come to an affluent home and hastily gather up his two daughters ages 5 and 10 months.

The little girl playing young Victoria, the eldest daughter (Morgan McGarry), is the most angelic, sober little actress.  Look at that face!

The father quickly puts the girls in the backseat and sets out for no where in particular, just trying to get away, but it's snowing and he's driving very fast and erratically and in a short time slides off an embankment and crashes the car.  He and the children abandon the car and walk through the woods and happen upon a cabin. I won't spoil what happens next, but cut to 5 years later and the father's brother, Lucas, played by the same actor (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has used up all of his brother's money looking for him and his nieces. 5 years! This is crazy because it was snowing when the brother's car went off the road.  The skid marks would be easy for anyone to find; but especially this man wanted for kidnapping and murder, the police wouldn't have been far behind. Plus, a 5 year-old and a man carrying a baby, didn't walk that far into the woods.   The only way this plot would have worked is if the ghost cloaked the cabin or it's occupants, so that searchers couldn't see it or them.

What I like about the plot is Jessica Chastain's character, Annabel, she's the live-in girlfriend of Lucas. She accepts his obsession over finding his nieces, but isn't really invested in it.  She's a rock musician with an edge and short on sentimentality.  She's not looking to be mother of the year, or interested in the experiment of healing two wild things; she agrees to raising them basically cause she's not yet done with being with their uncle. This outlook provides good scenes involving the growth of her relationship with the girls.

What I don't like is the casting of Chastain.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of her looks and acting talent, but she's already over-exposed.  I would have preferred to see an actress that really has that harder edge, and one that wouldn't have needed to wear such a bad wig.  Someone like Ellen Page or a Rose McGowan type, maybe even Megan Fox.

The main two missing ingredient as to why this film Mama isn't as frightening as the trailers portends - we see Mama too much. She/it starts to look slightly cartoonish.  And the children are not frightening, not after leaving the cabin. "Outdoorsy" as Annabel describes them, but they are not very freaky. Nothing freaks me out like freaky kids - how about that girl from The Bad Seed?

Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) are torn between loyalty to Mama and living their new existence, but Mama has not possessed them. And I'm not sure why Victoria's glasses are so significant. Her father makes a point of grabbing the girl's eyewear before leaving the house; her glasses break in the crash; the first thing Lucas gives Victoria when the girls are found are eye glasses, Victoria takes them off when Mama is around; Mama at one point removes the offending spectacles... I suppose they just represent Victoria having one foot in the supernatural world and one in reality; but it feels like the glasses or lack of them, should somehow play a part in the climax.

Anyway, I really don't want to run the movie down. The storytelling through the children's artwork is effective. The pop of color on black and white for the flashback scenes are creative. The film on the whole is very watchable and keeps you tense and interested. In fact, while I was watching the movie and immediately after, I felt like it was good; but upon closer inspection, the flaws come into view. I apologize if I've ruined anyone's anticipation of seeing Mama. Hope you'll still see it, and then let me know what you think!

click to COMMENT

T & T's LAMB (movie bloggers association) Score: 2.5 outta 5

Post Update 10/17/2015 See T&T's post on...

Guillermo del Toro's CRIMSON PEAK

Share :)

Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog

Philly Events Calendar

ADD YOUR EVENT for FREE! - which includes SOCIAL MEDIA BLASTS!  Click AGENDA VIEW to see complete list of happenings.

Featured Post


Tinsel & Tine Winners for Preview Screening Contest Guest on The LAMB Podcast Lambcast #470: CAPTAIN MARVEL w/ Rich Kirkh...

Food n Film: BURNT

Food n Film: BURNT
Bradley Cooper has more than charisma, he has an over abundance of Chi, which radiates out from him; so for me, this role as temperamental and damaged chef Adam Jones, who also inspires great love and admiration from those around him, works on the level of characterization. In fact, I think he's among a very short list of actors who would be able to pull off being so self-involved and yet likable. Doesn't hurt that he really speaks French too! READ POST

Food n Film: CHEF

Food n Film: CHEF
Much of the movie centers around the father/son relationship, and how much they learn from each other. But the real star of the film is all the food preparation, every other scene made me groan with want of everything up on that screen! Particularly the perfectly roasted and rubbed brisket, the crispy fat of the pork belly, sizzling bacon and the much ballyhooed Chocolate Lava Cake. READ POST


The key to deciphering both the city it beautifully depicts and the man who eats it best - City of Gold

By Tinsel & Tine Contributor Denine Gorniak (The Bicycle-Chef)

What Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times food critic/writer, has done for food writing journalism and for the restaurants that he loves, the movie, City of Gold has done for Jonathan Gold and Los Angeles and its surrounding environs – it has planted taco covered kisses on them... READ POST

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT
If you’re a foodie movie lover who saw Lasse Hallström’s The Hundred Foot Journey (see T&T post), this summer you may be wondering what delicious visual journey might be awaiting you in the theater next. Well, how about a look back at his film Chocolat (2000), which stars French actress Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp. Hallström’s has a special talent for turning cooking into a dramatic movie journey...READ MORE


...young Hassan, a soulful-eyed boy with lush, thick eye lashes, places his face into the sea urchin basket, and breathes in the exotic briny scent. He sticks his fingers into the aquatic ooze, takes it to his mouth and is transfixed by the taste. The vendor, oblivious to the thrusting arms of frenzied women, notices the boy and realizes he is the only one worthy of this oceanic prize; he is the one who can “truly taste.” ... READ MORE

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA
Personally, I like the unevenness of it, because I fell in love with the post World War II, Parisian sights, sounds, food and romance between Julia and Paul. I always felt a bit jarred back into reality when the scenes returned to Julie's meltdowns and cramped kitchen.READ POST

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE
Six months into my 38th year of this life, I had my first panic attack. I didn't know that's what it was until months later. Symptom after symptom starting piling up on me until there were days I could no longer move my arms or neck. The doctors told me I was suffering from an auto-immune condition that they felt was most likely Lupus. And so began my much deeper journey and exploration into the world of spirit, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation and Eat, Pray, Love. READ POST


With a film like this, food plays a main character in the story and I was lucky enough to get an interview with the film's Food Stylist, Janine Kalesis.READ POST

Food n Film: WAITRESS

Food n Film: WAITRESS
In this 2007 film, Keri Russell stars as Jenna - a desolate diner waitress seeking solace in the art of pie-making. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she’s eager to escape her husband and her small-town hell and sets about to make a run for it by entering an out of town pie baking contest. READ POST


Those of us in attendance were not only given the opportunity to see Babette's Feast, the Oscar winning, Danish film, considered one of the all-time great "food films"; we also got to taste Babette's menu! READ POST


I participated in WalkMS Philly on 4/30/16
Thank you to the readers who donated to the cause - It's not too late to support! Click badge below

15 Top Food in Film Flicks

15 Top Food in Film Flicks
Cozy Quilt of Food Movies, we'll add more patches as T &T discovers more films where food plays the biggest "roll"

Tinsel & Tine on

Tinsel & Tine on
Really love this platform, you feature your stuff and other people's stuff you follow, and it all configures like the front page of a newspaper. Click to see what I mean

Visit Our YouTube Channel

Visit Our YouTube Channel
View Q & A's with visiting Filmmakers to Philly

Philly Food and Film

Videographer Oliver Gallini 5 min short featuring organic-chemist-turned-chef, Townsend Wentz, who got his start at The Four Seasons Philadelphia.


Cross Content Blogs


Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tinsel & Tine was nominated for a VBA



group of 10,000 women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments

Women Online

The Blogstress Network

The Blogstress Network
Female Bloggers Unite

Contributor from 2010 - 2012

About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

Camera Tips


  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP