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The creepy ghost creature Mama is real, according to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays two characters in the horror movie Mama , but his biggest challenge was acting against an actual ghost. Because Mama was real , not just some CG tennis ball chasing around the actors. It was a real actor, wearing creepy make-up and giant latex fingers, who stalked the sets on all fours.

In our exclusive interview, Coster-Waldau describes what it was like working with a real life creature. Plus, get a good look at Mama with one very spoilery picture below!

What do you think is scarier, feral kids or ghosts?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: The combination is scary. But the ghost, the ghost for me. However, the kids in this movie really freak me out.

When you first see the kids after they've been stranded in the woods for several years, they look like little rat people. Was that CG?

I think it thinned them a bit, and maybe made the eyes a little darker. But the movement is all the kids. They may have sped it up a little, but the kids did all the motions. They had a movement coach work with them to get all their actions down. [When they start scratching at me] I told the girl playing Megan that you have to hit me for real. Or else it's too difficult to pretend. And she went for it!

In the movie you play two characters, Jeffrey, who is a very bad man and does some very bad things, and his twin brother Lucas, who later gets the girls. What's it like holding a [fake] gun to a kid's head?

That scene was... You know when I read the script, I liked that it had such a dark beginning. It's a different story in a way, it's almost like those stories you read in the paper — "father loses it and kills his family" — and then it becomes this different story. I wanted to show the craziness. But I also wanted to see if we could find the little point where [the audience] could look in and see a lost soul. Of course, it's disturbing when we did it. And the actress is such a sweet little kid, and then we pull out the gun — yeah, it's nice. The scene worked... That sequence was the most difficult emotionally to do, because it's a disgusting place to go. He wants to die, and clearly he has to take them with him because they won't be able to survive alone. It's disgusting. it's just horrible. I have kids myself.

There are a lot of references in this movie to the idea of "unfit parents." The first parents are unfit, and then later your other character Luke and his girlfriend Annabel (played by Jessica Chastain) are also called unfit parents by others. The creature was definitely an unfit parent. Why was this theme important?

I like the entity, the creature, the ghost, that they gave her a real, emotional motivation. It's not just something that comes out of nowhere and comes to hurt us. She wants something. I thought that was interesting. Together with the other mother, Annabel, who just doesn't want these kids at all, she wants them out of her life. That conflict is interesting.

It feels like the mothers in horror movies are always the compelling figures fighting to protect children, and the fathers are always a bit clueless, why?

I don't know, but it's like that saying about about bears. If you run into a bear cub in the wild you just have to pray you don't run into the mother. There's just something very deep and fundamental desire to protect your kids, no matter what. I think the bond between a mother and her child is incredibly strong.

What did the Mama character look like on set? Was a lot of her CG?

No, no, most of it wasn't CG. We had this amazing Spanish actor performer who was Mama. His name is Javier Botet. He has this insane body — he's like the skinniest guy I've ever seen, and very long-limbed. Then they had the special FX team from Pan's Labyrinth who did his head, so he had four or five hours everyday in make-up, so he came out every day looking more or less like Mama. But without the flowing hair, they added that after. But he was there to shoot. He had those crazy movements. It was weird the first time we saw him on set because he has a crazy look... He had these latex fingers and he would touch me like this [wraps fingers around his neck] — it was disgusting. And Jessica, she has these fights with him. It was all him.

Mama will hit theaters on the 18th of January.


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Where Dread Throbs and Little Girls Scuttle

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mama movie ghost picture

By Manohla Dargis

  • Jan. 17, 2013

Guillermo del Toro, the reigning godfather of motion-picture horror, is the modern-day Val Lewton , the legendary producer of atmospheric chillers like “The Curse of the Cat People.” If you’re a movie fan, you know that horror doesn’t get much better than this, and when it comes to contemporary offerings it rarely gets more enjoyable than “Mama.” 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, notably pictorial beauty, an atmosphere throbbing with dread and actors so good that you don’t want anyone to take an ax to them.

The story opens with a camera sliding up to a car parked at an angle, with the driver’s door open and the radio blaring in front of a suburban house. Catastrophic economic news has led to a panic, with one executive, Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), running amok. Since the fetching Mr. Coster-Waldau plays the blond bad boy Jaime Lannister on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” you may expect the worst. The director Andy Muschietti — who shares script credit with his sister, Barbara (who’s also one of the producers), and a third writer, Neil Cross — whittles the story down to its freaky primal nub. One minute, Jeffrey is holding a gun and contemplating the unthinkable with his two young daughters; the next, the girls are five years older and singing a lullaby straight out of “ Hellraiser .”

The Muschiettis open the movie with “once upon a time,” tipping that “Mama” is a modern fairy tale of sorts. After the girls went missing with their father, their uncle, Lucas (also Mr. Coster-Waldau), initiated a search. Two of his trackers find them in a derelict midcentury-modern home deep in the woods. (Dad remains M.I.A.) It’s a setting that suggests an abandoned Don Draper weekend getaway, save for the two critters scuttling across the floors and atop a fridge, where one hovers over the other like a bird with a chick. Filthy, with matted hair and skinny spider legs, these are the little lost girls, Victoria (Megan Charpentier), and her younger sister, Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse), wild children seemingly headed toward an unhappily ever after.

Lucas takes custody of Victoria and Lilly, to the sullen displeasure of his live-in girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain). Together they move into a house provided by the hospital where the girls are treated. However appealing its cast, the movie sputters in this stretch, partly because it takes time to recover from the shock of Ms. Chastain’s amusingly apt Goth drag (she only looks menacing), with her jet-black accouterments and multiple tattoos snaking around her pale arms. More problematic are the lapses in logic. The filmmakers easily sweep the girls out of their woodland digs, but they stumble with some of the more ordinary scenes.

“Mama” began as a wittily unnerving three-minute short about two girls and a maternal creature that the Muschiettis shot to show Mr. Muschietti’s range as a director. Mr. del Toro took notice of their pocket shocker, and while he took only an executive producing credit on the feature-length “Mama,” it fits with the more successful movies he’s signed onto. Mr. del Toro understands that nothing says terror like a home that’s become a rattling cage. And so, once Lucas has been awkwardly dispatched, leaving Annabel home alone with the girls, Mr. Muschietti gets down to shivery business.

Ms. Chastain and her excellent child co-stars, an intensely matched set, embody their characters with soulful believability, whether they’re working together or creeping along a hallway solo. Left to their own devices these three initially circle one another warily. Where this reluctant, plausibly uneasy family is headed is obvious, but Mr. Muschietti throws out enough diversions and visual wit to keep you distracted from the predictable turns. In “Mama” horror is intimate, domestic and overtly feminized, so much so that its monster — Javier Botet, from the “(Rec)” Franchise — opens up darkly oozing, Cronenbergian holes in the wall, a striking visual suggesting that the house itself has given birth to the demon. Here the law of the father meets the wounded wrath of the mother.

“Mama” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). A consistent sense of dread, topped with some dead.

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Some Serious Questions About the New Horror Movie 'Mama'

Oscar contender Jessica Chastain has a new ghost movie,  Mama , out this weekend, and we have so many questions.

mama movie ghost picture

Riding the subway back downtown after a screening of the new ghost movie Mama , my viewing partner and I posed few questions to each other about what we'd just seen. We continued asking these questions even once we were off the subway and comfortably ensconced in a window seat at a snug East Village bar. We had lots of questions, is the point. And so, in lieu of writing a full-on review of this senseless and tediously dumb movie, I'm just going to, as an homage to Pete Wells , pose some of those questions, put them out into the inter-ether and wait not-very-expectantly for a response. Beware: spoilers abound.

1. Why is the creepy abandoned cabin in the Virginia woods, where a ruined financier (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who's just killed his business partners and wife takes his two daughters to kill them, decked out in dusty 1970s furniture? I mean, that's fine, cabins got abandoned in the '70s same as any decade, but then what specific connection does the 140-year-old ghost who saves the girls from their daddy have with this relatively contemporary (and, if you cleaned it up, quite lovely) abode? And why does the camera linger on the name of the house, written on a little plaque outside, if the name plays no part in the rest of the movie? Is this all just spooky set-up with no real meaning behind it?

2. Why does the financier's brother Lucas (also Coster-Waldau) — who spent five years looking for his two nieces before they are discovered, feral and wild, in the cabin — deserve to have custody of the girls over their mother's sister? I get that she's frosty and blonde and Lucas is a hip artist with a rocker grrl wife/girlfriend named Annabel (Jessica Chastain), but beyond that? Why is this barely working guy with a reluctant life partner such a better candidate than this woman of equal relation to the children who can offer them stability and seeming affluence? Are we simply to go along with the movie's early failings in logic and sense-making because we're told to?

3. Back to those feral children, you're telling me, Mama , that two little girls running around like animals in a pretty well-situated cabin in Virginia of all places weren't found for five years ? What, did the locals forget that cabin existed? Or did they just think, "Aw heck, those littl'uns probably aren't in that furnished cabin, that'd be crazy"?

4. Why do Annabel and Lucas so unquestioningly agree to live in the house that the creepy psychiatrist Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) offers them? What even is this house? And if it's a science house, meant for observation of patients, where are the cameras? Also what? Do such things even exist? Surely this isn't just some lame excuse to get the characters out of their cramped apartment and into a spooky, dark, drafty home, right?

5. If one of the two girls, the younger one Lilly (the rather remarkable Isabelle Nélisse), is as feral as she appears to be, would she really be sent to live with relative strangers so quickly? And would the two girls really be left alone with their uncle's girlfriend after the uncle suffers a mysterious accident and is laid up in the hospital? If Dr. Dreyfuss has these kids in an observation house, where's the observation? He stops by like twice in the movie, shouldn't he be there more often?

6. And when exactly does Dr. Dreyfuss figure out that the girls have brought a ghostly presence with them? When did he have time to write all the stuff that, of course, Annabel eventually finds and reads? Is Dr. Dreyfuss evil? Simply curious about the supernatural? It can't be that he's simply a hollow device used for the dispensing of exposition, can it?

7. About this ghost: if she has as many powers as she displays in the film's turgid and nonsensical climax, why doesn't she just use her scary ghost abilities on the first night? Or when the girls were at the hospital after they were discovered? What use does a 140-year-old ghost hellbent on one thing have with toying with people? Why all the subtle scares? Why not just fly over there and grab the kids at the first possible moment? Does it seem odd to anyone else that a ghost would be concerned with the plot mechanics of a steadily mounting suspense story?

8. And hey, once we find out what the ghost's ultimate mission is, where's the explanation for why she didn't just do it five years ago, the day she found the two little ones in the cabin? What was the wait for? Do ghosts just change their minds like that, say "Oh hey, actually I want to do this with you now," after five years together? Is capriciousness a common ghostly trait, or does the movie just invent shit when it wants to because why the hell not?

9. What exactly are the rules of this movie? Is the ghost flying to and from the cabin and the science house? Or are those holes in the walls with moths crawling out of them some sort of portal system, like the space tunnels in Contact ? If so, why bother? Seems awfully elaborate for an extremely powerful supernatural being, doesn't it? And why do the two little girls seem to know that Mama will get jealous and go after Annabel and Lucas? Has Mama gone after people in the past? Does that mean that people did find them in the cabin, but Mama just killed them? If so, why didn't anyone notice that people kept going missing near that cabin? And why didn't Mama kill the two old guys who eventually found the girls and took them away? Was she out on an errand? Where is Mama when she's not around?

10. What happened to Annabel and Lucas's little dachshund? Why did he just disappear after one or two scenes?

11. Why does a ghost, possibly the ghost of Lucas's brother but possibly Mama, type "M A M A M A M A M A M A" on a hospital computer before Lucas has a prophetic dream? What's the point of that? Also, why do some current horror movie makers think computers are scary when computers are not scary? And why do some current horror movie makers think that cheap computer animated ghouls are scary when they just look like dumb videogames? Why does Mama move like a stickbug when she is the ghost of a person, not the ghost of a stickbug? If Mama can possess people's bodies, as she does at one point, why didn't she do that to Jessica Chastain way in the beginning of the movie? Why does Mama keep doing arbitrary, poorly designed things that are supposed to look scary? Are these people, including director Andrés Muschietti, simply winging it, making up stuff as they go along? Are people really supposed to pay $13 to see someone pile lame special effects on top of a sorta interesting initial premise and enjoy it?

12. Is this really the kind of thing that producer Guillermo del Toro wants to attach his name to?

13. Why does it seem so hard these days for people to make horror movies that actually are well thought-out and have some degree of narrative cohesion? Do people really go in for video game-level special effects arbitrarily thrown at the screen with lazy thoughtlessness? Doesn't it seem odd that the bar has been moved so low? Even in the wake of great ghost movies like The Others and The Ring ?

14. Finally, do we think this stinker will affect Jessica Chastain's Oscar chances?

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Inspecting the Horror: Mama (2013)

  • Digging Deep

Guest Author

  • July 24, 2017


Fear, Loss, and Motherhood: We go beyond the surface scares and explore the deeper meaning behind Mama

In inspecting the horror, we look beyond the details of the set and focus more heavily on the story and the messages the story is trying to tell the audience. dig deeper into the film and discover more meaning, more significance, and perhaps a different opinion..


Based off a 3 minute short film by brother and sister Andy and Barbara, Mama is the story of a man and his girlfriend who recently come to raise his two nieces, who have been missing for five years following their father’s disappearance and now presumed death. The girls were found to be in a feral, uncivilized state and seemed to have only adapted and survived in the wilderness with the assistance of a mysterious or otherwise imaginary person they call ‘Mama’.


Once the dust has stilled from their discovery and health observations, the unlikely family move and attempt to begin a new life together; however, the girls aren’t settling in like they should. After too many odd occurrences, and one too many bad dreams, the girlfriend-turned mother-figure is determined to resolve the frightening problem and cause of the girls’ strange habits.

Side Note: You can watch the short film that inspired Mama here:

What Makes ‘Mama’ Scary?

mama movie ghost picture

  • The corruption of innocence; The two girls, Victoria and Lilly, are left alone in the wilderness by their distraught and seemingly hopeless father. After he leaves the story, the duo is left to die in every sense. The audience wonders what will happen to them, why or how a parent could do this to their children, and how this will affect their development into adults. These thoughts in turn produce feelings of sadness, disgust, and worry.


  • The Monster and its Story; Mama herself is frightening and harrowing in appearance. She’s very tall, gangly, and her facial structure is warped and worn. Her moans and growls really are the stuff of nightmares. The way she effortlessly floats and flies about and then sinks into the ground and crawls rapidly while screaming is guaranteed to send a chill or two. The backstory of Mama is also quite sad and it’s a great insight to be able to see it played out in the film.  Once the audience learns of the story and that this creature could potentially be real, the feelings of fear intermingle with those of sympathy and a very baseline level of understanding her sorrow.
  • A True Horror Ending; Some could call the resolution a bittersweet ending, while others could say it was heartbreaking. Regardless, the final act of ‘Mama’ is surely not a happy one for all the characters. It doesn’t follow the standard set of rules and it most certainly doesn’t leave you with a smile or a sense of contentment.

mama movie ghost picture

Dissecting the Messages

While Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) portrays the uncle, it’s really Annabelle (Jessica Chastain) who holds the protagonist position. The audience is introduced to her sitting on the toilet, anxiously awaiting the results of a pregnancy test in her hands, and cheers with relief when the stick shows negative. She wears black from head to toe, sports tattoos with pride, and plays bass for a band of other late 20s-early 30s rockers. The director successfully conveyed in every possible way that Annabelle is not, and never wants to be, mother material. However, the role of mother is suddenly thrusted into her hands when the nieces are found. Her role as fun, easy going girlfriend just took a serious turn to responsible, loving mother.


She doesn’t accept the role initially and shows reluctance and defiance throughout the exposition, at one point even pondering her importance to Lucas. She shows the girls no affection at first, holding her displeasure and contempt for the situation against them by being abrupt and short with them. She gives minimal effort for their needs and is frustrated and exhausted by them and the fact that she feels she has no clue what to do. Once the house starts to feel unsafe and she can no longer ignore the strange (albeit not the usual strange) actions of the nieces, her sense of compassion for them starts to unravel.

This is eased by Victoria, the eldest girl, who is receptive to her interactions with Annabelle and appears to be accommodating with her and the newness of the situation. The more she feels the children are threatened, the more Annabelle steps up to the plate and shows concern for both their wellbeing and discovering why these “things” keep happening. Nearing the resolution, the audience sees Annabelle embrace the girls, speaking to the girls more softly, and showing genuine care. With this evolution of character, Annabelle can pull forth her bravery in order to keep these two girls out of harm’s way as only a selfless maternal figure could do.


This contrasts with the relationship between Mama and the girls, as Mama’s reasons for caring for the girls was selfish and polluted. When the girls upset and made Mama feel jealous, she caused fear and harm to the girls, revealing just how lacking Mama really is as a mother.

The combination of ghost story and metamorphosis into motherhood works perfectly because it taps into the ideas of facing your fears, having faith within yourself and having the strength to face loss, whether it be the loss of a child, the loss of independence, or the loss of normality.

Mama was produced by Guillermo del Toro, who has his trademark displayed throughout the film. His flair for the supernatural is one of them and the overlying idea, conveniently conveyed by character Louise, really helps you understand the heartbreak and helplessness of Mama-  “A ghost is an emotion bent out of shape, condemned to repeat itself, time and time again until it rights the wrong that was done.”    

What ideas did you pick up on in Mama? How do you relate or what did you find terrifying? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Frights and Feelings: Mama (2013)

Darleen wrote:

I think Lily did not die. I think she transitioned into a butterfly, landed on her sister’s hand and flew away.. She just wanted her sister to know she was okay. That’s how I choose to look at it. Anyone who suffers from the loss of a loved one may find comfort and thinking this way about it.

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'Mama': A Good Old-Fashioned Horror Movie

David Edelstein

mama movie ghost picture

Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and her sister, Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse), are near-feral orphans in the horror thriller Mama . Universal Pictures hide caption

  • Director: Andrés Muschietti
  • Genre: Horror
  • Running time: 100 minutes

Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements

With: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Daniel Kash

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Credit: Universal Pictures

'I'm Not Your Mom'

I was weaned on horror movies and love them inordinately, but the genre has gone to the dogs — and to the muscle-bound werewolves, hormonal vampires, flesh-eating zombies, machete-wielding psychos, etc. It's also depressing how most modern horror pictures have unhappy nihilist endings in which everyone dies and the demons pop back up, unvanquished — partly because studios think happy endings are too soft, but mostly because they need their monsters for so-called franchises.

But Mama is an entertaining step in the right, which is to say backward, direction. No, it's not original — it doesn't drill for fresh nerves. And the subtext has problems I'll talk about later. But it's a good old-fashioned ghost story, shapely and poetic, beautifully fashioned. And scary — let's not forget scary.

The director is first-timer Andy Muschietti, and the producer is Mexico-born horror maven Guillermo del Toro, who moves back and forth between popcorn genre pictures and surreal fantasies with imperiled child characters, among them Pan's Labyrinth .

Mama hinges on imperiled children, too. Lilly and Victoria are little blond sisters who've spent five years alone in a cabin in the middle of the woods after being kidnapped by their estranged father, who'd just murdered their mother. He doesn't stick around — I won't say why. The girls are finally found by trackers hired by their uncle and, at first, they're barely recognizable as human. They hiss and claw and scamper around on all fours. The younger, Lilly, was barely a toddler when she entered that cabin. Whisked away from it, she keeps calling out, "Mama."

The girls' uncle, Lucas, is played by Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who cut a fine, romantic presence as the villain in last year's terrific Norwegian thriller Headhunters . But it's Lucas' live-in girlfriend, Annabel, who's the protagonist. She's played by rising — risen, really — star Jessica Chastain, her hair cut sharp and dyed raven-black, her eyes rimmed with mascara. You can't take your eyes off her, which is a good thing, because you spend a lot of time following her down dark corridors.

Annabel is a Goth rocker who doesn't want kids — we know this because in her first scene she takes a pregnancy test and breathes a sigh of relief when it's negative. So it's quite the challenge to care for two feral girls at the behest of a hovering therapist who thinks the kids need a stable home. Annabel makes her discomfort plain when the girls are delivered to her and Lucas' new suburban house, supplied by a hospital for occasions like these — you know, the feral-kids-need-a-stable-home occasions.

mama movie ghost picture

As unwilling foster parent Annabel, Jessica Chastain is the flesh-and-blood figure at the core of a story about conflicting maternal instincts. Universal Pictures hide caption

As unwilling foster parent Annabel, Jessica Chastain is the flesh-and-blood figure at the core of a story about conflicting maternal instincts.

The movie will ultimately come down to whether Annabel can bond with these girls and, in the process, discover her own maternal instincts — the only effective weapon against the title character. I won't tell you who or what Mama is or where she came from or what she wants — but she's a ghost to conjure with cinema's eeriest, a spidery thing with a face that's a dry-rotted mask of pain and rage.

As in many modern horror films, a lot of Mama 's scares come with fortissimo musical exclamation marks. But others are the result of director Muschietti's witty staging, with sight gags that make you laugh and then gasp, like the shot in which little Lilly is playing tug of war with her off-screen sister, Victoria and — oh, wait. There's Victoria walking down the hall. So who ... ? Oh .

Fernando Velazquez's music is deliciously hammy, evoking nursery rhymes and funeral processions. And there are swirling, swooping, eye-popping expressionist dream sequences — visions, really, telepathically induced by a jealous and very volatile spirit.

The biggest problem is that the central question — whether selfish punk Annabel will find her inner mom and save the girls — is beyond old-fashioned: It's reactionary. But the heart-rending operatic climax sweeps you up in a more complicated question: whether either or both of these little girls will forsake a devoted but demonic psycho Mama for one who might be less constant but won't suck out anyone's innards.

I was guessing right till the end, which is not only satisfying — there's no potential sequel in sight.

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'mama' movie review.

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Very few horror movies would last past the second act if the characters in these films were actually fans of horror movies.

Some time after the first occurrence of Scary Old Timey Music Wafting Through the Vents, after Creepy Bugs Fluttering Inside the House and certainly by the time of the "Accidental" Fall That Sidelines a Key Character — well, that's when any red-blooded, movie-going individual would run out the front door and never look back.

To the credit of director Andy Muschietti , his co-writing team and a first-rate cast, "Mama" succeeds in scaring the wits out of us and leaving some lingering, deeply creepy images, despite indulging in many of the aforementioned cliches — and about a half-dozen more. (Executive produced by horror master Guillermo del Toro, "Mama" is a feature-length expansion of a three-minute short that Muschietti made with his sister Barbara.)

In addition to at least three or four jump-in-your-seat stingers, we get some of the most creatively chilling nightmare sequences in recent memory. A stylized dream (which is really a transferred memory) set in the 19th century, in which we see a crazed young woman creating bloody terror before leaping off a cliff with her newborn, all of it shown from the madwoman's point of view? That's a lot more innovative than anything we're likely to see in yet another film about a plodding behemoth in a mask chasing after dumb teenagers through the woods.

In the prologue to "Mama," we learn of a shooting at a financial firm after an economic crash. A distraught executive named Lucas ( Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from "Game of Thrones") arrives home, quickly collects his two young daughters, Victoria and Lilly, and speeds off. They wind up in an abandoned house deep in the forest, where Lucas apparently intends to shoot his daughters before he can kill himself.

That's not quite how it works out.

Flash forward to five years later. Lucas' brother Jeffrey (also played by Coster-Waldau) has never given up hope. His team of searchers finally stumbles on to the very abandoned house we saw a century ago in the nightmare. Dad's long gone, but the girls are still there — covered in mud, making strange noises, crawling on all fours in rapid fashion like wild animals. How could they have survived on their own?

The girls are kept in isolation for a few months as Dr. Dreyfuss ( Daniel Kash ) records their every move while ostensibly helping with their assimilation. Given that Victoria keeps making cryptic references to an unseen "Mama" and Lilly sleeps under the bed, gnaws on fruit, twigs and the occasional bug, and screams whenever anyone tries to touch her, the girls hardly seem ready for ice cream, pajamas and bedtime stories, but Jeffrey is determined to give them a normal life.

So Jeffrey and his rocker-chick lover, Annabel ( Jessica Chastain in a black wig and a tattoo sleeve), take the girls to their new rent-free home, provided by the ever-lurking Dr. Dreyfuss, who wants only to keep studying the little ones.

Let the chills and spills begin. As Dr. Dreyfuss investigates some long-ago murders at a facility just a few miles from the site of that house in the forest, Jeffrey is sidelined by an "accident," leaving the reluctant Annabel in charge of the girls, who are still a long way from being invited to anyone's play group. (Not that we ever see a hint of even one neighbor on the block. Does no one hear all the shaking, rattling and rolling going on in that house where the rocker chick lives with those scary little girls?)

For the longest time we don't see much of the ghostly Mama, who apparently has been alternately caring for and terrorizing the girls all these years and has made the trip with them to suburbia. She flashes by the screen, or we see just the top of her head as she zips about the house. Once we do see her, yipes. Thanks to a combination of CGI and a performance by the extremely thin, extremely tall Spanish actor Javier Botet, this is one frightful Mama.

The real mother in the story is Annabel, who slowly sheds her tough-talking, who-gives-a-bleep exterior as her nurturing instincts take over. It's worlds away from Chastain's Oscar-nominated turn in " Zero Dark Thirty " and further proof she's one of the finest actors of her generation.

Some elements of "Mama," including the dream sequences, are reminiscent of Japanese horror films. There's also some dark and wicked humor, as when Lilly plays and giggles with an offscreen Mama while Annabel goes about household chores, oblivious to the insanity occurring just around the corner. Coster-Waldau is solid in what turns out to be a supporting role, and Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse are terrific as the little girls.

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.

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Film credits.

Mama movie poster

Mama (2013)

Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements

100 minutes

Jessica Chastain as Annabel

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Lucas/Jeffrey

Megan Charpentier as Victoria

Isabelle Nelisse as Lilly

Daniel Kash as Dr. Dreyfuss

Directed by

  • Andy Muschietti

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2013 Directed by Andy Muschietti

A Mother's Love is Forever

Guillermo del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their parents were killed. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something still wants to come tuck them in at night.

Jessica Chastain Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Megan Charpentier Isabelle Nélisse Daniel Kash Melina Matthews Morgan McGarry Javier Botet Jane Moffat David Fox Dominic Cuzzocrea Julia Chantrey Ray Kahnert Christopher Marren Matthew Edison Diane Gordon

Director Director

Andy Muschietti

Producers Producers

J. Miles Dale Bárbara Muschietti

Executive Producer Exec. Producer

Guillermo del Toro

Writers Writers

Neil Cross Bárbara Muschietti Andy Muschietti

Casting Casting

Robin D. Cook

Editor Editor

Michele Conroy

Cinematography Cinematography

Antonio Riestra

Production Design Production Design

Anastasia Masaro

Art Direction Art Direction

Elis Y. Lam

Set Decoration Set Decoration

Patricia Cuccia John 'Butch' Rose Kari Measham Andrij Molodecky

Stunts Stunts

Alison Reid

Composer Composer

Fernando Velázquez

Sound Sound

Gabriel Gutiérrez Allan Fung Marc Orts Alfredo Díaz Greg Chapman

Costume Design Costume Design

Luis Sequeira

Universal Pictures Toma 78 De Milo

Canada Spain

Releases by Date

08 jan 2013, 17 jan 2013, 18 jan 2013, 31 jan 2013, 01 feb 2013, 07 feb 2013, 08 feb 2013, 22 feb 2013, 01 mar 2013, 06 mar 2013, 07 mar 2013, 14 mar 2013, 21 mar 2013, 05 apr 2013, 17 apr 2013, 18 apr 2013, 15 may 2013, 29 may 2013, 07 jun 2013, 14 jun 2013, 20 jun 2013, 29 jul 2017, 01 apr 2021, 07 may 2013, 17 jun 2013, 28 aug 2013, 01 oct 2013, 23 mar 2018, releases by country.

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  • Digital Netflix
  • Theatrical 16
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  • Physical 16 Blu ray
  • Physical 16 DVD
  • TV 16 SBS 9
  • Theatrical M/16

Russian Federation

  • Theatrical 16+
  • Theatrical 12
  • Premiere New York
  • Theatrical PG-13
  • Physical PG-13 DVD

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Popular reviews


Review by Lucy ★★★ 3


ellie ✨

Review by ellie ✨ ★★ 1

always interesting to see how far into a horror movie i get before having the thought "i'd just kill myself." made it to 38 minutes this time


Review by DirkH ★ 42

I apologize in advance for the swearing and caps lock typing but fuck this film and modern mainstream horror.

Mama represents everything that's wrong with the genre these days. It is bland, uninspired and has no fucking soul whatsoever, which is kind of ironic as it is a ghost story.

Why? Why do ghost stories always have to be played out THE EXACT SAME FUCKING WAY IN EVERY FUCKING FILM???!!!!??? Creepy kids? Check. Creepy house? Check. Kinda sorta expert meddling with shit? Check. COmpletely clueless dimwitted adults who figure out nothing by themselves but just have shit happen to them and happily tag along making all the worst choices imaginable? Check. Predictable backstory with equally predictable resolution? Check.


Review by clementine ★★ 3

i'm built like mama


Review by cat ★★★

the scariest part of this whole movie was jessica chastain’s wig


Review by Dom ★★★½

I liked this. If I was adopted by punky Jessica Chastain, Jaime Lannister and their pet sausage dog I would never complain about anything in my life ever again.


Review by Bethany ★★

i love you jessica!!!! even in your goth days!!!!


Review by sree ★

mama said it's MY turn to play with the poltergeist


Review by Afaf ★★ 1

that was actually...sad

matt lynch

Review by matt lynch ★★½

rescued by Chastain's ambivalent motherhood, but man does this go on and on, just forever , and the last 30 minutes or so of chasing around some ridiculously stupid-looking CGI thing is just a catastrophe.


Review by briony ★★½

lesbian custody battles are nasty

King #adoptdontshop

Review by King #adoptdontshop ★★½

Daddy Nicolaj Coster-Walda adopt me!

Mama  is a horror movie about a ghost who took care of lost siblings - and she wants to keep doing so despite being rescued by their uncle and his wife. On paper, this Andy Muschietti film should be terrifying especially since the ghost design is damn scary. This horror drama also features decent performances from the kids and a goth Jessica Chastain. There's gasp-worthy sequences that fully committed to Mama ’s eerie atmosphere and the climax is chilling. Considering the ghost’s purpose  a little heart definitely helped.

But the scares are repetitive and too long in between in such a snail's pace that the spooks quickly ebbed away. Thinking about it, Mama is more maternal drama than horror, and might disappoint fans who want to be consistently scared - a kind of horror that belong to the early 2000s (don’t know why, but it kinda reminded me of The Grudge )

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Mama (Mama)

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She was portrayed by Javier Botet , who also portrayed The Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2 , Tristana Medeiros in the REC film series, the Leper, one of the many forms of IT , in the 2017 adaption of IT , KeyFace in Insidious: The Last Key , the Slender Man in the 2018 film adaptation of the same name, and Dracula in The Last Voyage of the Demeter .

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Biography [ ]


Edith after taking back her baby.

Edith Brennan was a former patient at St. Gertrude's Asylum in the 1800s. Her appearance and simple actions imply she had Down syndrome, though this is never officially stated. She breaks out of the asylum and stabs a nun who had taken Mama's baby (also named Lily) into her care then steals the baby back. Chased by the authorities, she ends up at the edge of a cliff overlooking a lake; seeing no other path, she jumps and hits a tree branch on the way down. While an unconscious Mama fell into the lake and drowned, the baby (killed by the impact) was stuck to the tree trunk and was recovered by the pursuers.

Mama becomes a ghost, twisted by the sad emotions of not knowing where her child is (she is unaware of why the baby was not in the lake with her). This causes her to take a form of physically being twisted, with body parts askew and many joints bending the wrong way. She searched the woods for centuries trying to find her baby, until she stumbled upon Victoria and Lily about to be killed in the cabin by their deranged father , to which she broke their father's neck and began taking care of the children as substitutes for her deceased baby.

Mama's presence is generally signaled by jet-black moths and electrical problems. She plays with the children but hides from sight of anyone else; Victoria always takes off her glasses when she looks at Mama and tells Dr. Dreyfuss she won't come where she can be seen, as Dr. Dreyfuss originally believed "Mama" to be an alter-ego of Victoria.

Early in the movie, Lucas is pushed down the stairs by Mama and ends up in a coma. This forces Annabel, who feels very uncomfortable with the children, to take care of them. Over time, Victoria becomes more like a normal child, but Lily retains her feral nature; this is attributed to the fact that Victoria was older and thus had socially developed before their abandonment in the woods.

Over time, Annabel becomes attached to the children, and later, Victoria begins to prefer her over Mama, but Lily still remains completely loyal to Mama. Annabel becomes aware there is something wrong and that Mama may indeed be real. Victoria worries for her safety, saying Mama gets very jealous. Dr. Dreyfuss begins to believe the stories of Mama, first because Victoria is able to tell stories with information she shouldn't be able to know, and later because he actually sees Mama. In the course of the investigation, he obtains custody of the corpse of Mama's baby. Dr. Dreyfuss comes to believe that Mama is located in the cabin in the woods and goes to investigate one night but is killed by Mama there. 

The girls' maternal great-aunt Jean Podolski visits one day, but believes Annabel is abusing the children (due to bruises Lily has from her animalistic tendencies) and begins to spy on the house for proof. Lucas has a dream induced by his dead brother while in a coma, asking him to save his children and pointing him to a location in the woods.

Annabel visits Dr. Dreyfuss's office after another supernatural night at the house but finds out he is missing; she steals his objects related to the case. At this point, she learns of the aspects of the case which the doctor had found out about and finds the baby's corpse, as well as Mama's past life. At the same time, Mama becomes furious and attacks the children and Annabel; Victoria tries hard to defend Annabel and pleads for Mama to stop, but Lily is still clearly loyal to Mama. Annabel is knocked out, but at the last moment Jean breaks into the house and has her body possessed by Mama. Mama uses this body to take the children to the cabin. Annabel wakes up, grabs the baby's corpse, and drives to the lake, finding Lucas along the way, who has left the hospital and gone to the site his brother told him about in his coma dream.

Mama crawling.

They arrive at the cabin, finding Jean dead on the floor but neither Lily nor Victoria. Annabel sees the cliff that Mama had originally jumped from; remembering the warning that ghosts are twisted souls doomed to repeat their mistakes, she realizes Mama's intentions to re-enact her fall and jump off the cliff with the children. Lucas and Annabel arrive in time to stop the children from jumping, but Mama attacks them. The assault is stopped when Annabel offers Mama a bundle, containing her baby's corpse, and Mama begins crying, preparing to jump off the cliff with it, her twisted appearance reverting to her beautiful human one.

However, as they are leaving, Lily shouts to Mama and she regains her twisted appearance and attacks again, knocking out Lucas. She grabs the kids and walks to the edge of the cliff. Annabel tries desperately to stop Mama, eventually beaten to the point that she can only hold onto Victoria. Once at the edge of the cliff, Victoria tries to convince Lily not to go, and Lilly cries that Lily, Victoria, and Mama should all be together. Mama jumps off the cliff with just Lily, and upon hitting the branch, Mama and Lily turn into a shower of butterflies. The movie ends with Victoria realizing that one of the butterflies watching over her is in fact Lily, perhaps referencing a ghostly regret of Victoria not going with her. Also, that butterfly, unlike Mama's (which are moths and are black) is blue.

Personality [ ]

Mama is seen as a loving parent and shows good knowledge in playing and taking care of Victoria and Lily. However, in times when Annabel interferes, Mama can turn angry, insatiable and extremely jealous, often trying to protect her adoptive children and violently lash out, pertaining to her malevolent side.

Mama, once a beautiful and thin woman with long hair, became a monstrous and skeletal figure with greyish skin, frail and disjointed limbs and long sharp fingers. She also has a pair of round, glowing blue eyes and dirty hair that flows in an ethereal and eerie manner. She wears a simple dark dress which became more tattered and equally floated like her hair.

As a ghost, Mama showed to be capable of a vast amount of wraith-like powers, most infamously her ability to fly. She is seen using possession once and can hide in the shadows, as well as being able to transform through shape and size.

Gallery [ ]


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The Ending Of Mama Explained

Family staring

Director Andy Muschietti's decade-long stint as a feature film director has been incredible to watch as he's gone from breakout indie director to helming some of the biggest genre blockbusters. After breaking out onto the film scene with his 2013 debut, "Mama," Muschietti went on to direct an epic, two-part horror adaptation of Stephen King's "It" and then tackled "The Flash" for the DCEU. Now, he's set to direct the upcoming "The Brave and the Bold"  for James Gunn's rebooted DCU. So, to celebrate Muschietti's continual success and evolution as a director, it's the perfect time to look back at the film that started it all for him — "Mama."

Based on his 2008 short film of the same name, "Mama" follows couple Annabel ( Jessica Chastain ) and Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as they take care of Luke's abandoned nieces who have been living in the woods for five years after being left by their father, Jeffrey (also Coster-Waldau). However, they haven't been living alone as a mysterious and frightening entity has been helping them stay alive and has taken on a motherly role that it's not looking to give up any time soon. Annabel and Luke find this entity to be quite attached to the girls causing horrifying nightmares to become reality. "Mama" was the film that put Muschietti on the map, so let's do a retrospective dive into its ending and the impact it's had on his legacy.

What you need to remember about the plot

Before hopping to the ending of "Mama," let's do a quick recap of the big details of the story. So, Annabel and Luke end up taking care of Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and her younger sister, Lily (Isabelle Nelisse), after they're found in an abandoned cabin. Initially, Victoria and Lily are completely feral and struggle to make a connection with the human world. Slowly though, they become acclimated to civilized living and start to warm up to Annabel and Luke. However, Victoria and Lily unexpectedly bring along a mysterious maternal figure they refer to as Mama (Javier Botet). Mama is an absolute terror for Annabel and she ends up asking Dr. Dreyfus (Daniel Kash) to uncover the truth about this "Mama" figure.

Dreyfus' research and a dream-like vision that Annabel has weaves together the story surrounding Mama, who is actually the ghost of a troubled woman named Edith. Centuries prior, Edith was sent to an asylum and had her child taken from her. One day, she was able to escape and reclaim her baby before running into the woods while others pursued her. Eventually, she runs towards a cliff and decides to jump off with her baby in hand. However, they hit a branch on the way down causing her baby to get snagged and for Edith to drown in the water below. Now, Edith looks to reenact this event with Victoria and Lily since her spirit can't move on. 

What happened at the end of the movie

Through everything that Annabel learns in Dr. Dreyfus' research, she discovers that Edith doesn't realize that her baby was snagged by a branch when they were falling. Thus, Edith's spirit was never able to fully be laid to rest and now lives on as this "Mama" entity and plans to take Victoria and Lily over the same cliff she jumped off of many years ago. 

However, Annabel finds the corpse of Edith's baby in Dreyfus' files and brings it to the cliffs before Mama can take Victoria and Lily. The sight of her dead baby's corpse causes Edith to reappear and be visibly distraught by this realization. However, Lily's cries for Mama lead her to attack and nearly kill Annabel and Luke before bringing the girls toward the cliff.

Annabel puts up a fight to keep them from going with Mama though and although her efforts don't stop Mama, it does lead to Victoria choosing to stay with her new parents. Lily doesn't make the same choice though and Lily and Victoria have a tearful goodbye before Mama and Lily float over the cliff. Mama and Lily become shrouded by a shadowy cloak before plummeting towards the hanging branch, but the two share a loving embrace before they collide with the branch and explode into a flurry of moths. One of the moths lands on Victoria's hand and it now makes her believe that Lily is with her in spirit. 

What does the end of the movie mean

It's no surprise that a film titled "Mama" has themes surrounding motherhood, but there's actually a lot to talk about with its ideas — mainly Annabel's arc and depiction as a newfound mother. Although Annabel isn't shown to be ready for motherhood in her introduction as she celebrates the negative result of her pregnancy test, she eventually comes to see her impact as a mother. Not only does she grow a stronger bond with the girls, but she even develops an empathy for Mama's pain from losing her child. 

Her decision to try and alleviate Edith's anguish by showing her the corpse of her baby is a strong change in her arc and her constant fight to save Victoria and Lily shows her undying will to protect her children — a staple to any mother. This unique depiction of motherhood is actually something that Chastain has openly said she loves about Annabel as a character. In a press roundtable promoting the film (via We Got This Covered ), Chastain discussed how "it's not that Annabel becomes a mother, but she becomes a hero of people." For Chastain, she believes that this experience makes Annabel become something more and it ultimately leads to her arc being a re-defining depiction of motherhood in film. 

Another explanation

Another key theme in "Mama" is how it depicts nature vs. nurture — which is a psychological debate of whether our characteristics and instincts are developed from biological traits or our distinctive upbringing — through Victoria and Lily's arcs. For Lily, she has no memories of a life before Mama because she was so young when her father abandoned her and it's a key reason why she decides to go with Mama in the end. Regardless of the connection that's been built lately with Annabel, there's just something inside her that makes her see Mama as her true mother and it's why she's willing to go with her to the very end. 

Victoria on the other hand does know a life before Mama and has an understanding that Annabel could be a great mother to her based on the experience she's had with her lately. While Mama did help take care of her for many years, Victoria understands that the life she had with her isn't one worth living and that Annabel can provide the kind of mothering and guidance that she really needs. She even understands that it's better for Lily to go with Mama and it's what makes the ending so tragic yet meaningful. So, Lily and Victoria represent the core elements of the nature vs. nurture debate, respectively, and they're what make "Mama" a multi-faceted look at motherhood. 

What does the cast and crew think

Along with the film, itself, providing themes and ideas surrounding motherhood through its story and characters, both director Andy Muschietti and other members of the crew have talked about their feelings on the ending and the impact of the film. In an interview with Cinemablend , visual effects supervisor Ed Taylor said that "Mama" is about hope."It's about what a parent is — how do you define a parent? And it's about fighting for what you love," Taylor explained. This definitely rings true in the final stretch as Annabel takes more of a stand against Mama and puts up a stronger fight to save Victoria and Lily. 

In the same interview, Muschietti delved into Annabel's transformation a bit and talked about how she isn't exactly your typical hero. "This is a woman who, by accident, from one day to the next has to take the responsibility of raising two little children who aren't hers. She's a reluctant hero," said Muschietti. This explanation is reflected in Annabel's arc; it's what makes her turn toward motherhood so compelling and adds to the impact and meaning of the film's name. 

What the ending could mean for the franchise

Believe it or not — even though the ending of "Mama" feels incredibly definitive — there have been talks of a sequel for quite some time. However, it doesn't seem like one is coming any time soon. "Mama" was released to decent reviews from fans and critics back in 2013 and ended up having a great box-office haul of roughly $148 million against a budget of around $15 million.

So, it's not surprising that Universal had planned to do a sequel and possibly expand it into a bigger franchise. In an interview with Screen Daily , former Universal executive, David Kosse, mentioned that "We [Universal] think there's potential for a 'Mama' franchise," but he also highlighted that conversations around a sequel were in the early stages at the time. 

However, they did eventually bring on "Pet Semetary" filmmaking duo, Dennis Widmeyer and Kevin Kolsch, to write and direct a sequel in 2016, but news on their progress has been minimal for quite some time. Frankly though, even if the sequel eventually starts to gain momentum in its development it's unlikely that Chastain would return to star — at least according to some insider reporting from The Wrap back in 2016. Still, though, it has been a while since that reporting and maybe Chastain could want to return. However, fans of "Mama" likely shouldn't be expecting a sequel any time soon. 

Could there have been an alternate ending?

While some films have multiple endings or a lot of alternate endings that never made it to the final cut, that wasn't exactly the case for "Mama" and there's a specific reason for that. For Andy Muschietti and producer  Guillermo del Toro , the heartbreaking elements of the ending are a necessary part of the film. In an interview with SlashFilm , they discussed why keeping the film's initial ending was so important. Although there was some belief that Universal executives might kill the film's original ending, Muschietti believed that "[it's] the only ending possible." "You start thinking this girl [Lily] can be recovered, but there's nothing to be recovered too because she doesn't know this world," said Muschietti, "so that's the happy ending, her going to Mama."

Del Toro heavily agreed with Muschietti and even talked about how dedicated he was to see this ending being the film's true ending. "I was amassing the weapons of mass destruction in case it was needed," said del Toro, "We financed the movie in a way that we had autonomy in the decisions." Luckily, del Toro mentioned that they didn't have to fight much since Universal also liked the ending so their vision for "Mama" was able to be maintained and accepted without any talks of an alternate ending. 

How has the film has impacted Muschietti as a director

As mentioned before, the success and acclaim for "Mama" really set Andy Muschietti's career off excellently and he's been one of the most prominent rising forces in directing. Not only has Muschietti elevated his horror vision through his two incredible adaptations of "It" — which has redefined what a Stephen King adaptation can be — but now he's moved into the comic book movie space with "The Flash."

"The Flash" kicks off a new chapter in Muschietti's film career and shows that he can direct emotional and action-packed narratives outside of the horror genre — which is likely why he's already been tapped to direct more DC adaptations. Shortly after its release, it was announced that Muschietti is now set to direct the upcoming DCU film, "The Brave and the Bold" — which will follow Batman as he develops his relationship with his son, Damien, who becomes the new Robin.

Given that Gunn has sung continual praise for "The Flash" since taking over the DCU, it's no surprise that he would want to bring Muschietti along for the ride. Muschietti's journey as a director has been what most dream of — starting in a small yet personal film that builds towards a bigger and more thriving career. 

How is the film looked back upon

Upon its initial release, "Mama" had a little bit of mixed reception from critics and audiences as many saw it as an indie horror film with an interesting concept that's seen as a little confusing. On Rotten Tomatoes , the "Critics Consensus" blurb reads as so: "If you're into old-school scares over cheap gore, you'll be able to get over Mama 's confusing script and contrived plot devices." So, while it might not have been as beloved back in its initial showing, "Mama" has not only grown a fairly substantial cult following but has also been given some credit for being a unique horror movie that wasn't generally seen for the time. 

John Squires of Bloody Disgusting  wrote in a retrospective piece that "Mama" is a film that showcased Andy Muschietti's potential as a visionary and was a film that went against the norm for the typical Hollywood horror film. With ["Mama"] Muschietti proves that he's a visionary filmmaker of the highest order, wrote Squires. He continued, saying that "Muschietti's debut feature is less a run-of-the-mill horror film and more a striking piece of dark art. In more ways than one, it's quite unlike anything you'd ever expect to see in a Hollywood-made horror film." It's also fair to say that "Mama" predated and proved the potential of the indie horror space — which is undeniably thriving — so "Mama" continues to have a big impact and influence on the genre. 

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2013, Horror/Mystery & thriller, 1h 40m

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Critics Consensus

If you're into old-school scares over cheap gore, you'll be able to get over Mama 's confusing script and contrived plot devices. Read critic reviews

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Mama videos, mama   photos.

On the day that their parents die, sisters Lilly and Victoria vanish in the woods, prompting a frantic search by their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain). Five years later, miraculously, the girls are found alive in a decaying cabin, and Lucas and Annabel welcome them into their home. But as Annabel tries to reintroduce the children to a normal life, she finds that someone -- or something -- still wants to tuck them in at night.

Rating: PG-13 (Thematic Elements|Some Disturbing Images|Violence and Terror)

Genre: Horror, Mystery & thriller

Original Language: English

Director: Andy Muschietti

Producer: J. Miles Dale , Barbara Muschietti

Writer: Neil Cross , Andy Muschietti , Barbara Muschietti

Release Date (Theaters): Jan 18, 2013  wide

Release Date (Streaming): Dec 10, 2015

Box Office (Gross USA): $71.6M

Runtime: 1h 40m

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Production Co: De Milo, Toma 78

Sound Mix: Datasat, SDDS, Dolby Digital

Cast & Crew

Jessica Chastain

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Uncle Lucas, Jeffrey

Megan Charpentier

Isabelle Nélisse

Daniel Kash

Dr. Dreyfuss

Javier Botet

Jane Moffat

Jean Podolski

Morgan McGarry

Young Victoria

Dominic Cuzzocrea

Christopher Marren

Ray Kahnert

Diane Gordon

Matthew Edison

Young Lilly

Andy Muschietti


Barbara Muschietti

J. Miles Dale

Guillermo del Toro

Executive Producer

Antonio Riestra


Michele Conroy

Film Editing

Luis Sequeira

Costume Design

Fernando Velázquez

Original Music

Anastasia Masaro

Production Design

Robin D. Cook

Art Director

Patti Cuccia

Set Decoration

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Critic Reviews for Mama

Audience reviews for mama.

Some wicked creature design and good child actors make up for Mama's "unfinished" feeling. Jessica Chastain delivers as usual.

mama movie ghost picture

Startling to a point, Guillermo Del Toro is extremely unafraid of making himself too obvious as his trademark styles are very fluent throughout viewing. The horror film quickly escapades through retreading horror film clichés and eventually concludes in a confusing fairytale ending, reminiscient of Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" which also blended horror and fantasy. It's quite scary, but don't expect to be frightened by anything you aren't already expecting to be frightened by. The story, in which the "feral child" phenomenon is explored is probably the best part of the film, as well as the sturdy and often experimental direction.

Entertaining not one on my top ten Horror or whatever genre this Movie "slipped" in

Though Mexican director Guillermo del Toro did not direct this film, his fingerprints are indelibly placed all over this film. He has a producing credit and is always presenting in advertising, but it is director Andres Muschietti who brought the concept to the screen. Based on his short film from 2008, this reimagining has a larger emphasis on the specter, Mama's, backstory and places macabre elements into the story. While "Mama" isn't anything new, it is refreshing to see a film that places emphasis on the ethereal and the familiar in its ghosts. Mama is not an interesting character, or a great ghost in the long run. Her presence is always frightening, and the look of her from a peripheral standpoint is freakish, but that's only when she's in the shadows. When she plays with the children, or hides in plain sight, she is scary, as she plays the "other" rather well, but when we finally see her in full view, it's clear she wasn't constructed to be frightening. The character designs in del Toro's films have become much narrower in recent years (Most applicable in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark") and in this film it's easy to see where his influence changed the look of Mama. Everything else about this film feels a bit done, but that's not to say it's essentially bland. Annabel (Chastain) is an interesting character, who likes her independence, values not being a mother, and has a carefree relationship with her boyfriend Lucas (Coster-Waldau). Are any of these characteristics explored to enhance her character and make the impact of motherhood via adoption apparent compared to Mama's obsession? No. Annabel instead comes off as petty and sallow outcast who is a little cruel towards the kids. The setting was great, the set-up was impeccable, and the kids in this film are perfectly cast and super creepy, but it all feels done before. There's nothing really new here, except in ghost design for the eponymous character.

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'mama' review, what we do get is about 60 minutes' worth of very good and effective ghost story, made to look less attractive by the 40 minutes of fat hanging off of its middle..

Mama   is the lastest horror movie to carry the prestigious stamp of being "presented by Guillermo del Toro" - following in the tradition of such films as  The Orphanage  (2007) and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010). Mama tells the story of Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse), two little girls whose tragic family history leaves them stranded in the woods for five years' time.

When their father's twin brother, Lucas ( Game of Thrones  star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), finally tracks the girls down, it seems like the reunion is a small miracle; although Lucas' punk-rock girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain) isn't too thrilled with the sudden shift from starving artist to maternal figure. It doesn't help things when Annabel begins to suspect that the girls may not have been fending for themselves out there in the woods. Some thing watched over them, and is still   watching over them in their new home; an entity the girls only refer to (in secretive whispers) as "Mama."

Typically with these   "del Toro presents" films, the acclaimed filmmaker uses his clout to both support a creepy/frightening tale that caught his macabre attention, while also helping to showcase the work of a freshman feature-film director. Stepping up to bat this time is Andrés Muschietti, the writer/director who made the  2008  Mama  short film that this feature-length version is based on. Muschietti proves himself to be a visual and conceptual talent, and his film is definitely boosted by the talent of Chastain (in her pre-Oscar nom days) and the two young actresses who serve as its stars. However, while the concepts, acting and construction of the film all show hints of great skill, the execution of the storyline is where  Mama  fails to capitalize on its own potential.

In terms of direction,  Mama  is a pretty strong debut for Muschietti. The cinematography is dark but vibrant (full of earthen tones) and the sequences are all visualized and constructed in sharp, creative ways. Most of the film is confined to two locations (the woodland cabin where the girls are found and a house where Lucas, Annabel and the girls are living) but how Muschietti chooses to use these set pieces and the tight space therein is fairly smart and engaging most of the time. Instead of the usual 'calm by day, scary by night' progression, we instead get a lot of clever scare moments executed at all times of day (even broad daylight), using angles and framing to give even mundane moments (like doing laundry) a creepy edge.

Given the choice to use an ever-present antagonist (ghosts tend to lose their mystique the longer they hang around) and two child characters who are more unnerving than dangerous, Muschietti ultimately settles for a film that is consistently creepy, but only seldomly frightening. By the time the film reaches its over-blown conclusion, it has fully shifted from horror story to dark fairytale, and any scare-power it had in store ultimately dissipates into conventional drama. Despite that fizzle at the end, however, much of  Mama is (as stated) pretty creepy.

A lot of that creepiness can be attributed to the young leads, Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse - who play Victoria and Lilly, respectively. As the older of the two, Charpentier has the more difficult task of being the conflicted sister, torn between memories of her past life and her time with "Mama." The part calls for some intense interrogation scenes with psychiatric professor Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) and moments of both menace and childlike vulnerability. For a such young actress, Charpentier holds her end up well enough.

Since Lily spent most of her formative years in the woods, with no memory of life beforehand, Nélisse is given the much more fun task of playing the perennially creepy, snarling, untamed wild-child - a task she most definitely embraces wholeheartedly. Lilly will make you laugh, gross you out - and now and again, freak you out as well.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gets to have a bit of fun in his brief blips of screen time, playing both the half-mad father of the girls and the more sensible twin uncle; after certain developments unfold, he even gets a few moments worthy of a guest spot on House M.D.  That is to say: this is mostly Chastain's show.

It's doubtful that Muschietti and Co. knew that their starlett would be such a big name by the time their movie was finally released, but aside from the extra star-power Chastain brings to the film, her quality acting skills carry a lot of the movie in between the girlie/ghostly scare moments. She's good enough that Annabel's arc from bitter babysitter to fierce lioness protecting her cubs is a solid and relatable through-line that grounds the half-cooked supernatural mythos.

"Half-cooked" is a term that can indeed be applied to much of  Mama 's narrative. The film is frustrating in the fact that the script - by Andrés, his sister Barbara, and   TV scribe Neil Cross (BBC's  Luther ) - has a strong core story (the powerful effects of maternal instinct) and a great mythos built on top of that; solid foundations that the script totally undermines by adding too many extraneous bits.

Instead of focusing on Chastain and the girls,  Mama  in many ways presents us with three major story arcs - Annabel, Lucas and Dr. Dreyfus - only, by the end, one of those arcs has been tied-off abruptly and unsatisfyingly; another is abandoned completely, and the final one (as stated) spins right out of horror into full-on melodrama  - but hey, at least it's completed in full, right? (FUN FACT: If you watch the  Mama  trailer after seeing the film (watch it below) you can actually find out the resolution to part of the story, which didn't actually make it into the theatrical cut.)

At 100 minutes run time, Mama  isn't exactly epic in length - yet it still shows the sort of fatigue and confusion that can often appear when one tries to stretch a short film out to feature length (see also: Shane Acker's 9 ). While short stories allow for the quick introduction and immediate payoff of great core concepts, longer formats of storytelling require a pacing and careful balancing of time and attention that Muschietti just can't quite get right. What we do get is about 60 minutes' worth of very good and effective ghost story, made to look less attractive by the 40 minutes of fat hanging off of its middle. It's regrettable since there is so much that the film does well, but as it stands,  Mama  is just a fairly good time, and would not be a bad call as a future rental.

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Mama  is now playing in theaters. It is 100 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements.


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Mama (2013)

Submitted by evan b.

The film Mama was based on this short film

Pooper: Mama allows Victoria to remain with Annabel and Lucas, but leaps off the cliff with a more-than-willing Lilly. As the pair fall, Mama and Lilly are enveloped in a cocoon and when it hits the water, a bunch of butterflies explode from within. As Victoria embraces her new parents, a butterfly lands on her arm, and she sees it carries the spirit of Lilly within.

Long Ending: The father of three-year old Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and one-year old Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) has a nervous breakdown as part of the financial collapse. He kills his partners and the children’s mother before fleeing with his two girls. The car crashes and the family find a cabin deep in the woods. The father decides he must kill them all, but before he can shoot Victoria, a spectral presence envelops him and sucks up his life force (which is how the ghost kills all others in the movie). The ghost stares at the two girls, and then brings them food. Several years go by, and we are shown (via children’s drawings) that the children are raised in the cabin and become feral, though stay healthy and happy.

We then open several years later on Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who is a poor artist. He uses most of his meager salary to pay a few amateur trackers to try and find his nieces. He is supported by his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain), who loves him despite having a wild lifestyle. One day, the trackers manage to find the cabin and recover the girls. They girls are initially put in the care of a child therapist named Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash). He informs Lucas and Annabel that the girls believe they were raised by an entity called “Mama,” though he believes Mama is simply a split-personality of Victoria’s. Because she was older when they arrived at the cabin and remembers her parents, Victoria is more able to re-adjust to civilized life than Lilly, who remains obsessed with Mama. The girls’ wealthy Aunt Jean (their mother’s sister) sues for custody, but after Annabel and Lucas agree to let Dr. Dreyfuss have unfettered access to them (he realizes treating them could lead to great fame and fortune), he helps them gain custody and moves the new family into a house his organization owns.

Annabel is supportive, but very distant with the girls. Lucas is thrilled to have them. During an interview, Victoria tells Dr. Dreyfuss about Mama’s vague back-story, and he is intrigued. Dr. Dreyfuss does further research, ultimately discovering that Victoria’s story matches the story of a woman who was in an insane asylum in the 1800s. That woman had a child while institutionalized, but killed several of the nuns before escaping with her baby (who they were going to put up to adoption). Mama fled into the woods, closely pursued by the police. Rather than be captured, Mama  leaps off a cliff with her child. As they plummet, however, the child is caught on an overhanging limb (and killed) while Mama falls into the river and floats downstream. The police recover the baby’s body, place the remains in a box, and store the box in an archive. Dr. Dreyfuss recovers the box, but does not inform Lucas or Annabel of the story.

Meanwhile, spooky things occur in the house. One night, Lucas sees Mama’s butterflies and is startled when he sees her emerging from a wall. Lucas falls down the stairs and goes into a coma, leaving Annabel as the sole provider. At first, the relationship remains frosty, but the girls and Annabel begin to bond to the point where they say they love each other. During a session, Dr. Dreyfuss angers Victoria so much that Mama emerges to defend her. Victoria also reveals that mama had wandered the woods for years looking for her baby, and eventually found she and her sister. Knowing the story is real, Dr. Dreyfuss goes to the cabin to further explore, but is killed by Mama. Annabel, concerned at bruises that appear on the girls and their fear of Mama, steals his notes and the box with Mama’s child’s remains. Annabel soon comes to believe in Mama’s existence too. A now jealous Mama attacks Annabel and knocks her out, possesses Aunt Jean, and abducts the girls. When Annabel regains consciousness, she takes the baby’s remains and drives to the cabin. There, she finds Lucas, who was told by his brother in a dream to rescue the girls at the cabin. They also find Aunt Jean, dead in the cabin.

Annabel and Lucas see the girls standing on a cliff and run up to them. Mama emerges and begin to entice the girls to walk off the cliff. Lucas grabs them both and Mama attacks. Annabel, however, pulls out the baby’s remains and gives them to Mama. The ghost seems placated and begins to ascend to heaven, when she hears Lilly call out to her. Mama tosses her dead child aside and resumes her assault, knocking Lucas out. Mama attempts to knock out Annabel too, but Annabel refuses to give up. Mama ultimately realizes that Victoria wishes to stay with Annabel and relinquishes her, knowing Annabel loves Victoria too. Though Victoria and Annabel beg Lilly to stay with them, she clings happily to Mama (truly, the only mother Lilly ever had). Mama and Lilly plummet off the cliff,  and are enveloped in a cocoon as they fall. When the cocoon hits the water, it shatters and dozens of butterflies emerge. As Annabel and the revived Lucas hug Victoria, a butterfly lands on Victoria’s arm. She recognizes that her sister’s soul is within the butterfly, and that Lilly and Mama are now forever connected.  

mama movie ghost picture

  • Actor: Isabelle Nélisse , Jessica Chastain , Megan Charpentier , Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
  • Director: Andy Muschietti
  • Genre: Horror , Thriller
  • English-language films
  • Films of the 2010s
  • Paranormal films
  • Ghost and spirit films

Mama (2013)

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Mama  is a 2013 Canadian horror drama film, directed by Andres Muschietti from a screenplay by Muschetti, Barbara Muschetti and Neil Cross. The film is produced by J. Miles Dale and Barbara Muschietti, with Guillermo del Toro serving as executive producer. It is based on Muschietti's Spanish-language short film, Mamá (2008). Originally set for an October 2012 release, it was released in theaters on January 18, 2013.

  • 3 Screenshots
  • 4 External links

At the onset of the 2008 financial crisis, a stockbroker, Jeffrey Desange kills his business partners, his employees and estranged wife before taking his young daughters; three year old Victoria and one year old Lilly.

Driving dangerously fast on a snowy road, the truck 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 kids survive by the fireside and are tossed a cherry by the mysterious figure.

Five years later, a rescue party, sponsored by Jeffrey's twin brother, Lucas, find the children alive but  animal-like in their behavior .

The kids 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 kids' maternal great-aunt Jean. Dreyfuss is intrigued by the drawings the kids 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 kids, 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 spirit separated from her child and brings to light the story of Edith, a mental asylum patient in the late 19th century.

Dr. 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 him; 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 kids are visited by Aunt Jean, who, alarmed by some bruises on the kids, 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 kids' 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 Lilly, Annabel and the kids 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 kids.

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 Aunt 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 him, 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 before.Upon impact, she and Lilly turn into a shower of moths. While hugging Annabel and Lucas, Victoria notices a blue patterned butterfly on her hand, which she believes to be Lilly.

  • Jessica Chastain – Annabel
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau – Lucas Desange and his twin brother Jeffrey Desange
  • Megan Charpentier – Victoria Desange
  • Isabelle Nélisse – Lilly Desange
  • Daniel Kash – Dr Dreyfuss
  • Julia Chantrey – Nina
  • Jane Moffat – Jean Podolski
  • Morgan McGarry – Young Victoria
  • Jayden Greig – Orphaned boy #1
  • Tyler Curnew – Orphaned boy #2
  • Sydney Cross – Orphaned girl
  • Pamela Farrauto – The Nun
  • Javier Botet – Undisclosed role

Screenshots [ ]

Mama SS 1

External links [ ]

  • Official site
  • 1 The Farm (2018)
  • 2 Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 (2024)
  • 3 Peter Pan's Neverland Nightmare
  • Cast & crew

Mama Ghost (2023)

In a coastal town, a forbidden romance sparks between Rico and Sisca, and their love unleashes a malevolent spirit. As chilling deaths plague the town, past secrets are being unraveled and t... Read all In a coastal town, a forbidden romance sparks between Rico and Sisca, and their love unleashes a malevolent spirit. As chilling deaths plague the town, past secrets are being unraveled and the town is possessed by evil and fear. Rico must defy destiny and fight against the evil s... Read all In a coastal town, a forbidden romance sparks between Rico and Sisca, and their love unleashes a malevolent spirit. As chilling deaths plague the town, past secrets are being unraveled and the town is possessed by evil and fear. Rico must defy destiny and fight against the evil spirit to save his loved one.

  • Eko Hartono
  • Indah Siti Dzubaedah
  • Nadhira Hill
  • Yunine Fahriza Inez
  • Daud's wife
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

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  • September 1, 2023 (Cambodia)
  • Setan Bolong
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro

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  • Runtime 1 hour 29 minutes

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    Subscribe to TRAILERS: http://bit.ly/sxaw6hSubscribe to COMING SOON: http://bit.ly/H2vZUnMama Official Trailer #1 (2012) - Guillermo Del Toro Horror Movie HD...

  19. Mama

    On the day that their parents die, sisters Lilly and Victoria vanish in the woods, prompting a frantic search by their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica ...

  20. 'Mama' Review

    Typically with these "del Toro presents" films, the acclaimed filmmaker uses his clout to both support a creepy/frightening tale that caught his macabre attention, while also helping to showcase the work of a freshman feature-film director.Stepping up to bat this time is Andrés Muschietti, the writer/director who made the 2008 Mama short film that this feature-length version is based on.

  21. Mama

    Mama emerges and begin to entice the girls to walk off the cliff. Lucas grabs them both and Mama attacks. Annabel, however, pulls out the baby's remains and gives them to Mama. The ghost seems placated and begins to ascend to heaven, when she hears Lilly call out to her. Mama tosses her dead child aside and resumes her assault, knocking Lucas ...

  22. Mama (2013)

    Mama is a 2013 Canadian horror drama film, directed by Andres Muschietti from a screenplay by Muschetti, Barbara Muschetti and Neil Cross. The film is produced by J. Miles Dale and Barbara Muschietti, with Guillermo del Toro serving as executive producer. It is based on Muschietti's Spanish-language short film, Mamá (2008). Originally set for an October 2012 release, it was released in ...

  23. Mama Ghost (2023)

    Mama Ghost: Directed by Joel Fadly. With Indah Siti Dzubaedah, Nadhira Hill, Yunine Fahriza Inez, Taka Nurhadi. In a coastal town, a forbidden romance sparks between Rico and Sisca, and their love unleashes a malevolent spirit. As chilling deaths plague the town, past secrets are being unraveled and the town is possessed by evil and fear. Rico must defy destiny and fight against the evil ...