Sep 28, 2014

Review: Mamá (2008)

Before the executive produced Guillermo del Toro horror film Mama came out, there was only the short horror film Mamá from 2008. Made by Andrés Muschietti, his film was discovered by an impressed del Toro. The door then opened for a feature-length Mama that Muschietti would be able to direct as well as co-write. Quite an impressive story for a guy who's only other work goes back to a short he made in 1999. 

So I haven't seen the feature film myself yet but the short must be good if it caught the attention of del Toro. Not just anyone can be handed the keys to the kingdom. At a scant three minutes, Mamá is high on questions and low on answers and I mean that in the best possible way.


Genre: short, horror
Directed by: Andrés Muschietti
Produced by: Barbara Muschietti
Written by: Andrés Muschietti
Music by: Gil Talmi
Running time: 3 minutes
Production company: Toma 78
Distributed by: N/A
Country: Spain
Language: Spanish
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Victoria Harris, Berta Ros, Irma Monroig


Two young girls are alone in a house. Lili (Victoria Harris) comes into the bedroom where Victoria (Berta Ros) is sleeping. Lili urgently wakes Victoria up, saying that Mama (Irma Monroig) is back. Both girls appear terrified. 


I love how there is very little explanation about anything. There's a story here but most of it is kept shrouded in mystery, which just adds to the short's scariness factor. Really, who the hell is Mama? Sounds like she's just the mother of the two girls but something seems off right off the bat. Why does Lili walk into the room backwards, as if she's afraid of what might be following her? Why the hell does Victoria grab the fish bowl? That's when you know something is going to go down.

The camera movement/non-movement in Mamá is really good and heightens the tension alongside the music really nicely. It'll be really fluid one moment and then pretty much static at other times. I love the camera work during the stairway sequence and I also love how the camera stays on Victoria sleeping instead of focusing on Lili coming in the room in the beginning. Right away you're put ill at ease and the constant changes in camera behaviour have the same effect.

In terms of Mama herself, I don't want to go in too much detail. It's clear that the budget for Mamá is small but the effects for Mama are pretty well done, especially when it comes to her movement. The editing there is superb. (Spoilers) The final scene with Mama is the kind that will leave you shivering. (End Spoilers)

What Mamá excels at is having a really scary atmosphere. It's very well developed in that sense and the lack of answers in regards to pretty much anything is a great tool at making the viewer scared. What we don't know always has potential to be scary. That's why I'm a bit worried about watching the full feature. Is Mama going to be explained to death? I'll know eventually I guess.



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