Mama Information

Mama is a 2013 Spanish-Canadian horror film co-written and directed by Andrés Muschietti and starring Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The film, produced by J. Miles Dale and Bárbara Muschietti, with Guillermo del Toro serving as executive producer, is based on Muschietti's Mamá ("Mom"), a 2008 Spanish language short film of the same name that captured del Toro's attention. The film deals with the story of two young girls abandoned in a forest cabin, fostered by an unknown entity that they fondly call Mama, which eventually follows them to their new suburban home after their uncle retrieves them. Originally set for an October 2012 release, it was released in theaters on 18 January 2013.


On the onset of the 2008 financial crisis, a distraught man, Jeffrey, kills his business partners and estranged wife before taking his children " three-year old Victoria and one-year old Lilly " away from home. Driving dangerously fast on a snowy road, the car slides off and crashes in the woods. Surviving the crash, Jeffrey takes the children into an abandoned cabin. Planning to kill his daughters and commit suicide, he holds a gun to Victoria's head. Just then, a shadowy figure pulls him out of the door, snapping his neck. The girls survive by the fireside and are tossed a cherry by the mysterious figure.

Five years later, a rescue party, sponsored by Jeffrey's brother, Lucas, find the children alive but animal-like in their behavior. The girls are put in a welfare clinic under the psychiatric care of Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss agrees to support Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel's custody claim against the girls' maternal great-aunt Jean. Dreyfuss is intrigued by the drawings the girls have made of a mysterious character they call "Mama", whom they talk to and play with. During an intimate moment between Lucas and Annabel one night, Annabel is startled by the appearance of a shadowed figure in their bedroom doorway; while investigating, Lucas is attacked by Mama and slides into a comatose state. Annabel, a punk-rock musician unrelated to the girls, finds herself left alone to care for them while Mama's visits continue. Although Annabel makes progress with Victoria, she finds Lilly hostile. Alarmed by nightmares and a warning about "Mama's jealousy", Annabel asks Dr. Dreyfuss to investigate.

Dr. Dreyfuss initially believes "Mama" to be a creation of Victoria's mind. However, his research corroborates Victoria's story that Mama is an aggrieved mother separated from her child and brings to light the story of Edith Brennan, a mental asylum patient in the 1800s. Dreyfuss recovers a box of a dead child's remains, and has his first encounter with Mama while interviewing Victoria. Annabel has a nightmare about Mama's past; Mama had committed suicide by jumping off a cliff after stealing her baby from the nuns who had separated them. While falling, Mama's child was snagged on a branch and killed on impact, while Mama fell into the water. Annabel realizes Mama never knew what happened to the child and has been searching for her; she sees Victoria and Lilly as substitutes. Lucas regains consciousness after having a disturbing vision of his dead brother Jeffrey telling him to go to the cabin in the woods. Annabel and the girls are visited by Jean, who, alarmed by some bruises on the girls, tries to get Annabel investigated for abusing them. Victoria's growing closeness with Annabel makes her less willing to play with Mama, unlike Lilly, who still prefers Mama to Annabel.

Dr. Dreyfuss visits the cabin to research Mama's presence, and upon trying to photograph her, is attacked and killed. Finding him missing, Annabel steals the girls' case files from his office. She learns that Edith and Mama are the same person, while Lucas leaves the hospital to search for the cabin. Shortly after she makes a breakthrough with Victoria, Annabel and the girls are attacked by a jealous Mama, who subdues Annabel, possesses the body of Aunt Jean, who had broken into the house for evidence of abuse, and escapes with the girls. Upon regaining consciousness, Annabel takes the box bearing the remains of Mama's child and heads for the woods, where she meets Lucas. The couple spot the children on a nearby cliff, where Mama (who killed Jean) is preparing to relive her suicide by taking Victoria and Lilly with her over the cliff. Annabel offers Mama the remains of her child, and the angry spirit undergoes a more peaceful transformation, appearing human again. But when Lilly calls out for her, Mama returns to her terrifying form and attacks, discarding the remains of her child. After a desperate struggle, Annabel has just enough strength to hold on to Victoria who decides to stay with her and Lucas, while Lilly cries that she and her sister should be with Mama. Mama encases herself and Lilly in a cocoon and jumps off the cliff, hitting the same branch she did in the 1800s. Upon impact, she and Lilly turn into a shower of moths. While hugging Annabel and Lucas, Victoria notices a blue and black butterfly land on her hand, which she believes to be Lilly.


  • Jessica Chastain as Annabel
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Lucas / Jeffrey
  • Megan Charpentier as Victoria
  • Isabelle Nélisse as Lilly
  • Daniel Kash as Dr. Dreyfuss
  • Javier Botet as Mama
  • Jane Moffat as Jean Podolski
  • David Fox as Burnsie
  • Dominic Cuzzocrea as Ron
  • Elva Mai Hoover as Secretary


The film began production in Pinewood Toronto Studios on 3 October 2011. Production ended on 18 December 2011. Parts of the film were also shot in Quebec City, Quebec. The film was initially scheduled for release in October 2012, but was later rescheduled for 18 January 2013.


Mama earned $28.1 million on its opening weekend, debuting at #1 and playing at 2,647 theaters. The film has received generally favorable reviews from critics; it currently holds a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 129 reviews. The site's consensus states: "If you're into old school scares over cheap gore, you'll be able to get over Mamas confusing script and contrived plot devices."

Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, enjoyed the film, giving it three stars out of four and saying, "Movies like Mama are thrill rides. We go to be scared and then laugh, scared and then laugh, scared and then shocked. Of course, there's almost always a little plot left over for a sequel. It's a ride I'd take again." Owen Gleiberman, reviewing for Entertainment Weekly, gave the movie a B and said, "Mama lifts almost every one of its fear-factor visuals from earlier films: the rotting black passageways that spread like mold over the walls (very Ringu meets Repulsion); the crouched figures that skitter and pounce ŕ la the infamous 'spider' outtake from the original Exorcist; the way that Mama, with her arms like smoky-shadowy bent tendrils, evokes both the monster from the Alien films and also, in a funny way, the crumpled-puppet gothic mischievousness of Tim Burton animation. Nothing in the movie is quite original, yet Muschietti, expanding his original short, knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve. It helps to have an actress on hand as soulful as Jessica Chastain..." Rory Mellon of Replay Reviews gave the film a 7 out of 10 saying "Mama takes a step forward by taking a step back, however a weak script holds the film back".

IGN editor Scott Corulla rated the film 7.3 out of 10 and wrote, "This is a fine first film for director Andrés Muschietti and, despite some missteps and disappointments, very well could be a harbinger of interesting things to come for the helmer." The Huffington Post wrote, "With Del Toro's name up front, expect Mama to be the winter horror film of choice in 2013." The Philadelphia Inquirer called the film an "effectively spooky ghost story," adding, "Mama is full of arty tropes - sepia-toned flashbacks, flickering lights, menacing murmurings. The atmosphere is positively spectral. And it's easy to see why del Toro is a champion: Like his Pan's Labyrinth, there's a fairy-tale aspect (the film even begins with the title card "Once upon a time..."), with children in jeopardy, a witchy monster, and edge-of-the-precipice confrontations." DC Film Critic gave the film 3 stars, noting that "...there's something artistically cheap about horror... But Mama transcends. It even offers successful moments of humor as it carries us to its exquisite ending. Indeed, nowhere more than with its ending, Mama is horror at horror's most artistic." Canyon News wrote, "The scares do indeed come a mile a minute and will unnerve even some of the toughest moviegoers." The Houston Chronicle wrote, "Director Andres Muschietti is cinematically literate - in one example he borrows a flashbulb effect from Hitchcock's Rear Window - and he has visual panache. Much of the movie is surprisingly beautiful."

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