I definitely did NOT love this movie, but I didn’t hate it either. I feel kind of neutral about it. I absolutely love The Orphanage by the same director. This one is not near the quality in acting or plot. I can’t say that I would ever watch this again, but at least I don’t feel it was a waste of time.
Two young girls, Victoria and Lilly are involved in an incident that leads them to an abandoned cabin. Abandoned cabins are always a good thing in my book. Who doesn’t love that secluded and mysterious atmosphere. The father takes the two young girls into the cabin and is about to kill them both with a gun when a shrouded figure kills the father, seemingly to protect the two innocent girls. The girls’ uncle Lucas never gave up on the search for his nieces. Five years into the disappearance, his nieces are found in the cabin living like filthy animals. These feral creatures are taken to a facility to be observed by Dr. Dreyfuss. The performance of Lilly, by Isabelle Nélisse, is extremely well done by such a young girl.
The wild girls are allowed to live with Lucas and his rocker, strong-willed girlfriend, Annabel in a house that Dr. Dreyfuss has arranged so that he can have continued study of the children. Annabel is played by Jessica Chastain. I think we most remember her in The Help as a big-boobed, southern bell type. She has other good roles as well, but that was first one that popped into my mind. This character is such a total opposite- with super short, black hair, dark eyeliner, and loose-fitting punk clothes. I hated her makeover at first, but now I suppose I can see why it was done. Having her tough character fade into someone more loving. The last thing Annabel wants is to be a mother, but she does it because she loves Lucas. The girls claim that they did not live in the cabin by themselves, but that they were raised by Mama. Everyone and Dr. Dreyfuss agree that this is not true and that it is only a coping mechanism for the trauma they have lived through. But soon enough, Lucas and Annabel start noticing signs that they may not be in the house alone. Appearances of Mama in the film are often accompanied by the image of moths. I like this symbolic touch to the film. Moths are nocturnal creatures which can reflect intuitive perception over physical perception. Even when Mama is not physically seen by the characters, they definitely feel an ominous presence among them.
We can definitely tell Guillermo del Toro has a hand in this film, being the executive producer. I continually notice his reoccurring themes of ghosts and children (and children dying) with a usual sad/depressing ending. Even though this movie is PG-13, it has a few good scares in it without being hyper-violent or gory. This movie is more like a fairy tale. Not the happy type of fairy tale that kids are told today, but the original Grimm’s tales that are darker and typically not referred to as child friendly. The ending is a bit sad, but I like that it chose to go with the darker ending rather than the happy ending. I really don’t know if it could be called a horror movie if it had a happy ending.
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