Starring Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Rated 14A.
Poor Jessica Chastain. Just one week after the release of the acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty—with its slew of Oscar nominations, including hers for best actress—out comes Mama, a patently ridiculous kids-raised-by-a-ghost flick. There’s one agent in Hollywood who’s got some ’splainin’ to do.
Mama starts off strong. One snowy afternoon, a man named Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) shoots his business partners and his wife before grabbing his two young daughters and speeding away on a mountain highway. “Daddy, you’re driving too fast!” warns little Victoria before the skidding car plunges down an embankment and out of sight.
The trio trudges through the freezing woods and happens upon a seemingly deserted cabin that’s actually home to Mama, a skeletal demon ghost that zips around in the air and, apparently, gains access to the land of the living via mouldy-looking stains on the wall. The kids seem to like her.
Five years later and searchers hired by Jeffrey’s brother Lucas (played by Coster-Waldau again) find the girls. The feral munchkins scurry around like spider monkeys, but that doesn’t stop financially strapped artist Lucas from adopting them. His rock-musician girlfriend, Annabel (Chastain), isn’t quite so thrilled about it. She’s an immature hard-ass, but because she listens to Jack White and wears a Misfits T-shirt, at least we know she’s hip.
The messed-up kids are taken under the care of a psychologist (Daniel Kash), who also provides a beautiful house where they can be raised and studied. A jealous Mama soon shows up, and the rest of the flick has her hiding in closets and under beds and chasing people around. It’s all quite silly and predictable—except the part where Mama’s hair itself scurries across the floor like a scary wig on a rampage. I didn’t see that comin’.