“More often than not, Guillermo del Toro sympathizes with the monsters more than any of the ‘regular’ humans who appear in the films,” writes Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny. “No doubt that was one of the things that drew him to Mama, a project that began as a short film and that is now a full-length feature starring Jessica Chastain. While the titular specter is creepy and at times very threatening, there’s a sadness that ultimately defines who or what Mama really is, and that seems more important than the scares.

“It’s an interesting choice considering how often modern horror films seem to exist merely to service cheap shock gags, but Del Toro is nothing if not a lover of the classic tropes of the genre. His movie The Devil’s Backbone is a good example of a ghost story that has more on its mind than just SCARE SCARE SCARE SCARE, and his movie Pan’s Labyrinth may include monsters and supernatural landscapes, but it’s hardly an empty thrill ride.”