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Mama Reviews

Adam Nayman
Globe and Mail
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The problem is that [the] movie barely meets the minimum generic requirements, and thus comes off as pretentious for presuming to hover so airily above them.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 2/4

January 1, 2014
Wesley Morris
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[The movie] has more integrity than its creepshow peers. The story basically comes down to a dead-looking woman who doesn't want to be a mother fighting for parental custody against a long-dead woman who does. (Grad students, start your theses.)

Full Review Source: Grantland | Original Score: C+

August 1, 2013
Nigel Floyd
Time Out
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By splitting the action between several different characters and locations, the plot dissipates the suspense and lacks focus, as if it has been bolted together from disparate, ill-fitting pieces.

Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 3/5

February 20, 2013
Drew Hunt
Chicago Reader
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Screenplay contrivances aside, it's as stylish and atmospheric as modern horror gets.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

January 25, 2013
Dana Stevens
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Even if the beats are familiar, Muschietti sustains a remarkable mood throughout: wintry, elemental and stark, like a late Sylvia Plath poem.

Full Review Source: Slate

January 24, 2013
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
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I was guessing right till the bitter, scary, transcendent end.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture

January 21, 2013
James Berardinelli
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It starts out strongly, using evocative visuals and an unsettling backstory to establish a creepy tableau, but it proves unable to sustain those strengths all the way to the finish line.

Full Review Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 2.5/4

January 20, 2013
Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
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The metaphorical mother-child connection becomes a mystical horror show of significant power. Sadly it comes too late to save "Mama."

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 2.5/5

January 18, 2013
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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It's an interesting effort ... although, sadly, in the end "effort" is really the crucial word.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Original Score: 2.5/4

January 18, 2013
Tom Long
Detroit News
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There's something eerily effective about juxtaposing childhood innocence with the violent, the supernatural, the deranged. Evil shines all the more brightly when held up against the sweet promise of youth.

Full Review Source: Detroit News | Original Score: B+

January 18, 2013
Kyle Smith
New York Post
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Chastain has an excellent time. And so did I, for most of the movie: It's much more suspenseful than violent, being careful not to allow us to figure out Mama too quickly.

Full Review Source: New York Post | Original Score: 2.5/4

January 18, 2013
Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
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There's something dead and rotting at the center of "Mama," and it isn't the ghost of the woman who lends the horror film its title.

Full Review Source: Washington Post | Original Score: 1.5/4

January 18, 2013
Kevin C. Johnson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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[A] respectable entry into the horror genre that values chills over kills.

Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Original Score: 3/4

January 17, 2013
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
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"Mama" is skillfully made, and although Chastain is the best thing in it, she's not the only thing in it.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 3/4

January 17, 2013
Stephanie Zacharek
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This is a picture about how a mother's love can be nourishing at its best but suffocating in the extreme. Chastain embraces that idea wholly, without squeezing the life out of it.

Full Review Source: | Original Score: B-

January 17, 2013
Leah Rozen
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The fact that Guillermo del Toro is an executive producer of Mama is a tip-off that this won't be just another horror film with misbehaving and soon-to-be-dismembered teenagers or a drooling, slime-soaked monster.

Full Review Source: TheWrap

January 17, 2013
Rafer Guzman
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More effective than you might expect.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 2.5/4

January 17, 2013
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
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Instead of delivering buckets of guts and gore, this ghost story offers a strong sense of time and place, along with the kind of niceties that don't often figure into horror flicks ...

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 4/5

January 17, 2013
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
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"Mama" announces the arrival of a director who works unusually well with actors-the two children are truly scary-and who creates highly charged environments, effective sound designs and powerful fantasy sequences.

Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal

January 17, 2013
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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Though "Mama" doesn't work, it has the ghost of a good idea at its core.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 2/4

January 17, 2013
Ian Buckwalter
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Surprisingly, this patchwork pastiche often works.

Full Review Source: NPR | Original Score: 6/10

January 17, 2013
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
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Like another del Toro stamp-of-approval Spanish horror entry, The Orphanage, Muschietti's Mama is full of arty tropes - sepia-toned flashbacks, flickering lights, menacing murmurings.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3/4

January 17, 2013
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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You know something is up when what looks like a cheapie fright flick is produced by Guillermo Del Toro and boasts an Oscar-nominated actress in Jessica Chastain. Mama doesn't live up to their potential, but the film knows how to creep you out.

Full Review Source: Rolling Stone | Original Score: 2.5/4

January 17, 2013
Kristin Tillotson
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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"Mama" is a smartly refreshing departure, a truly scary movie exemplifying horror at its purest.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 3/4

January 17, 2013
Tom Russo
Boston Globe
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The frustration ... is how much the movie leans on made-ya-jump scares and contrived plot devices when its quieter chills and already fraught setups are so potent.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 2/4

January 17, 2013
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
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If you're going to have a ghost in your movie, it might be a good thing to present a viable alternative to that ghost. "Mama," however, presents a battle between two not very good options before crumbling like a sheet on a string.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 2/5

January 17, 2013
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
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The atmosphere is appropriately creepy, and there are some starts, if not outright scares. But it just gets stupid.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 2.5/5

January 17, 2013
Linda Barnard
Toronto Star
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An elegant and edgy thriller, Mamais a ghost story laced with fairytale sensibilities, benefitting from the nightmarish, artful influence of executive producer Guillermo del Toro.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 3/4

January 17, 2013
Mary F. Pols
TIME Magazine
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Mama is clumsily written and choppily edited, but Chastain doesn't have a bad scene in it, and you can see why she chose to be in this supernatural ghost story.

Full Review Source: TIME Magazine

January 17, 2013
Tasha Robinson
AV Club
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Plenty of horror movies are willing to settle for making audiences jump. Mama is more ambitious by far: It makes sure viewers are emotionally committed even when they aren't clutching their armrests or covering their eyes.

Full Review Source: AV Club | Original Score: B+

January 17, 2013
Richard Roeper
Chicago Sun-Times
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"Mama" succeeds in scaring the wits out of us and leaving some lingering, deeply creepy images ...

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3/4

January 17, 2013
Emily Rome
Entertainment Weekly
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Nothing in the movie is quite original, yet Muschietti, expanding his original short, knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B

January 16, 2013
Justin Chang
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What's under the bed? Who's behind that door? What's making those vaguely satanic noises? These and other thought-provoking questions are entertained in Mama, a visually polished but overly repetitive chiller.

Full Review Source: Variety

January 16, 2013
Rex Reed
New York Observer
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It never hits the high notes of Mr. del Toro's own films or successfully weaves between reality and fantasy as it should.

Full Review Source: New York Observer

January 16, 2013
Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
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In essence, Mama represents a throwback and a modest delight for people who like a good scare but prefer not to be terrorized or grossed out.

Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter

January 16, 2013
Melissa Anderson
Village Voice
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Mama never delivers the primal terror its premise would suggest.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

January 15, 2013
Keith Uhlich
Time Out New York
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Expertly conjured atmosphere only gets Muschietti so far.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 3/5

January 15, 2013
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