It only took dark fantasy director Guillermo del Toro two minutes to know that he wanted to make the thriller, Mama. Based on a short film written and directed by Argentine commercial director Andres Muschietti and produced by his writer/producer sister, Barbara Muschietti, Mama comes to life in a 100-minute feature film that’ll have you reaching out for your mommy.
The utterly creepy thriller tells the story of feral children, Victoria and Lily, found in a cabin five years after they were left there by their now deceased father. When the girls are reunited with their uncle Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his rocker girlfriend, Annabelle, (an unrecognizable Jessica Chastain) we soon find out that the girls brought along a little baggage with them—the overprotective ghost who raised them, whom they call “Mama”.
“Mama” is the ghost of a woman who ran away from an insane asylum over 100 years ago, after murdering several people and kidnapping her own infant child. “Mama” is ultimately cornered at the peak of a cliff and is forced to toss both herself and her child off of the cliff, into the water. Years later, when Victoria and Lily are left in the cabin where she hides, “Mama” adopts the girls, raising them in her own, supernatural way. The film’s striking resemblance to the popular Latino folklore La Llorona is not surprising. Mentored by executive producer, Guillermo del Toro, director Andres Muschietti’s first feature film moves like, sounds like—and is even influenced by the same sorts of folklore as—Guillermo del Toro’s most popular horror film—“Pan’s Labyrinth”.
Much like “Mama”, executive producer Guillermo del Toro’s influence was felt—and sometimes seen throughout the film. The film’s dark lighting treatment, the eerie guttural sounds uttered by the ghost and the folklore material from which the plot was drawn, all set hairs on end, in an homage to the style perfected by the famously complex and imaginative del Toro. More than just a muse, as the film’s executive producer, del Toro mentored the Muschiettis, and fought hard to protect their unconventional ideas for the film—especially the film’s non-Hollywood-style ending. Of the ending, del Toro says, “I tried to act as a buffer to preserve the idiosyncrasies of Andy’s style, and as a result, the ending of the film is not common or normal for a commercial movie.”
Never one to settle for normal, Guillermo del Toro has become the father of fantastical horror film, bringing to life the eerie, creepy and sometimes undead, stories of our nightmares and his dreams. His first collaboration with the Muschietti siblings has proven to be a spine-chilling success, scaring off the competition in its debut weekend, and continuing to cause audiences all over the country to check under their beds before they go to sleep!
By Being Latino Contributor, Tanisha Love Ramirez