Mama

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Mama Movie Poster Image
Uneven movie has very scary scenes, some involving children.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 61 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Mama brings up some heavy, complex ideas about motherhood, fear, love, devotion, protectiveness, and selflessness. Some of the characters learn to change, opening their hearts and accepting new kinds of relationships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The girls' uncle is a selfless character who doesn't have much money but still wants to take care of his nieces. Annabel learns a great deal over the course of the movie, moving from being a very selfish person to a more giving and caring one.

Violence

Many very spooky, creepy, and outright scary images, but very little actual blood. Children appear to be in danger in many scenes, especially a few early ones in which 1- and 3-year-old girls are with their panicked, unhinged father. (They survive a car wreck.) Secondary characters are killed, but only offscreen. A few semi-gory drawings are glimpsed.

Sex

The main character and her boyfriend kiss and start to undress each other, but they're interrupted. No nudity is shown.

Language

"F--k" is heard once during a voicemail message. "S--t" is said a few times, and "Jesus Christ" is used at least twice as an exclamation. Other words include "hell," "ass," butt," "crap," "oh my God," and "shut up."

Consumerism

Enterprise Rent-a-Car is mentioned by name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mama is a horror movie starring Jessica Chastain and produced by Guillermo Del Toro. It's very light on blood and gore, but there are lots of powerfully scary, spooky images, as well as scenes of young children in danger. Language is light (with one use of "f--k" and about three uses of "s--t"), and there's one brief scene of adult kissing and sensuality. Mama is a bit more ambitious than other horror films, and many horror-crazy teens will be able and eager to see it. But some of the movie's themes around motherhood and caring for children are a better fit for adult viewers.

User Reviews

Parent of a 14 year old Written byJeHaMo January 25, 2013

Typical Del Toro, MAMA

I viewed this film with my 16 year old daughter and her friends. It is a mix of historical fiction and modern. I find this, like most del Toro films, part mys... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written bymovieloversof2 May 17, 2014

good scare

We always preview movies before allowing our children to watch. Only you know what they are mature enough or able to handle watching. We allowed our 10 yr old... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 26, 2013

Good movie but creepy

I am a very big horror fan and I enjoyed seeing this movie. It is not the best movie for kids under 11 not because of its violence but because it is scary. I am... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byAliphulupus January 18, 2013

Epic movie

I really enjoyed this movie but i am wondering why its rated PG!?!?! Some scenes were very terrifying or disturbing. There is very little blood in this movie..M... Continue reading

What's the story?

Black-haired, raccoon-eyed rock 'n' roller Annabel (Jessica Chastain) lets out a happy "whoop" when she discovers that she's not pregnant. But her boyfriend, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is an artist who's spent five years searching for his missing brother and two nieces. And when the nieces -- Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and her younger sister, Lily (Isabelle Nelisse) -- are suddenly discovered alive in a cabin in the woods, Annabel and Lucas find that, ready or not, they're now parents. Unfortunately, a creepy ghost known only as "Mama" -- complete with silvery hair, crooked features, and bent limbs -- has been looking after the girls and has no intention of letting them go. Can Annabel discover the ghost's secret before "Mama" gets really mad?

Is it any good?

Mama seems to be more about special effects and solving mysteries than about truly exploring fertile -- and spooky -- territory. Producer Guillermo Del Toro's name in the credits may bring up memories of powerfully scary movies about lost girls (Pan's Labyrinth), but MAMA was directed and co-written by Andy Muschietti, a newcomer who adapted his own short film to feature length. Clearly Muschietti has some interesting themes to explore, such as the fact that motherhood is scary and powerful, and he has created two fascinating polar opposites in Annabel and the ghost of "Mama."

Unfortunately, rather than expanding and deepening these themes, the filmmakers fill in the blanks with a bunch of shop-worn old horror routines. Characters can't stop making silly choices, such as visiting the creepy cabin in the woods at night rather than during the day. And a sinister aunt who wishes to take the girls away could have been a much more satisfying addition.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Mama's violence. Do horror movies have to be gory to be scary? How did the movie's spooky scenes affect you?

  • What makes Mama scarier -- or less scary -- than other horror movies? How much spooky stuff does it show, and how much is hidden?

  • Do you think the children in the movie appreciate or understand the lengths to which the two "mother" characters care for them and love them? What messages is the movie sending about parenthood?

  • How does Annabel come to appreciate the role of motherhood? What is she like before that?

Movie details

For kids who love scary movies

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