Director Andy Muschietti’s original 2008 short, that inspired the 2013 Mama, Mamá , is very short indeed. Or at least that’s what I thought when I first watched it, as it appeared to be only seconds long. It’s a testament to how good the film is then, to learn that it is actually 3 minutes long. It’s even more a testament to the short that these 3 minutes are a more satisfying experience than the complete feature length Hollywood horror it became.
The trick here is very simple; we the audience are told that our protagonist childrens’ mother is home. We soon realise that their excitement is actually terrified fear however when it’s revealed that their mother is a very freaky looking ghost. Simple, effective, and patently clear that this is a special effects showcase as much as a little twist/surprise story. Thusly our attention is on assessing the Mamá of the title. The Mamá is a fantastic creation, moving weirdly, but not in a floating-then-jolting way that became so popular and cliche after the Ring series of movies.
The Mama of Mama though almost seems like the logical conclusion of the floating-then-jolting of what started after the Ring films’ influence. To be fair this logical conclusion was nicely carried off, with the monster’s bones constantly breaking in hideous fashion after the method of her death. But it was still the conclusion of something; Mamá’s monster seems totally apart from this and so more original.
Hollywood Mama also seems to fill itself with too much plot. It’s like the film is acutely aware of its origins as a short film that doesn’t focus on plot and feels the need to overstuff itself with it. Unlike the short original, Mama is a film that’s compensating for something…