“A playful, elegantly made little horror film, Mama teasingly sustains a game of hide-and-seek as it tantalizes the audience with fleeting apparitions of the title character while maintaining interest in two deeply disturbed little orphan girls,” writes Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy, who filed last night at 11:28 pm.
“Being sold primarily on the name of its godfather, Guillermo del Toro, this Canadian-Spanish co-production from Universal is refreshingly mindful of the less-is-more horror guidelines employed by 1940s master Val Lewton, not to mention Japanese ghost stories, but the PG-13 rating might prove too restrictive for the gory tastes of male core genre fans. Still, less bloodthirsty female teens could make up the difference at the box office, as the film provokes enough tension and gasps to keep susceptible viewers grabbing their armrests or the arms of those next to them.
“In essence, Mama represents a throwback and a modest delight for people who like a good scare but prefer not to be terrorized or grossed out. With fine special effects and a good sense of creating a mood and pacing the jolts, Andy Muschietti shows a reassuringly confident hand for a first-time director, pulling off some fine visual coups through smart camera placement and cutting, and not taking the whole thing so seriously that it becomes overwrought.”