Friday, June 28, 2013

OMG, Chucky is Coming Back and He Looks AWESOME


I absolutely have to comment on the first official stills from Curse of Chucky. It is the fifth Child's Play sequel and is coming direct-to-video in September. I'm still looking forward to a possible remake from original creator Don Mancini, however, some of the stuff I've been reading about Curse of Chucky have made me very happy and quite intrigued. Well, the plot sounds way off from the Chucky we know and love - how he's "finishing something he started 20 years ago" or some crap - so hopefully they've figured out a way to make it work for the character and the series. Anyways, I'm mostly excited about Chucky's look:

OMG, FUCKING YES. They have FINALLY gotten rid of those god-awful, ridiculous scars and brought back the Chucky that used to give me endless nightmares as a child. He's a bit updated, and more shiny and new, but still looks like the classic that he is. I've also heard that they've supposedly taken this film back to the series true horror roots and actually made it scary and less funny. I sincerely hope that's true because with Chucky looking the way he is again, I see myself possibly having some new nightmares about him. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Movie Review: World War Z (2013)

Oh, World War Z, what do I do with you? Way before hearing about the movie adaptation, I had passed over purchasing the book several times - I think the whole missive-type style threw me - and now it seems that I shouldn't have done that. Because now I'm going to read the book and have the movie images in my head, and that might not be a good thing. It took me a while just to get over the fact that Brad Pitt was even in a zombie movie, but when it came out to be PG-13, I was okay with it because that meant that it probably wasn't going to be a REAL zombie movie. And it wasn't.

I will stand by my spoiler philosophy and give fair warning because this is still a new movie. So... SPOILERS will be in this review. Not that you should really care all that much because the movie kind of sucked.

So Brad Pitt is this guy named Gerry who used to be some investigator or something for the UN when the zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out in Philadelphia. Brad is needed at his old job apparently (why can they never find suitable replacements?!) and that gets him and his family a free pass right out of the ZA while everybody else has to just fend for themselves. Anyway, so they go to this ship and other UN guys convince Brad to travel the world with a virologist to not only find the source of the infection, but of course also find a way to stop the zombies. Don't forget your comb for that lovely hair, Brad.

I went into this movie both wanting to like it and knowing I was going to be disappointed. It's a zombie blockbuster, for crying out loud. Blockbusters mean shit movies for a lot of money and this time they just added zombies - so zombie fans, don't get your panties in a bunch. You already know this is not going to be your new favorite zombie movie or anything. I did surprisingly manage to find a few things I at least tolerated in World War Z, so we'll start with those. The whole globe-trotting aspect of the movie was appealing on some level, as many zombie movies focus on a few individuals in one place. That made it a bit more exciting than some other zombie flicks and at least kept the plot moving fast so we could get to the end. It also gave us a look at how they are dealing with the zombies in other parts of the world - at least for a minute until they have a big action sequence and then quickly trek to the next location.

By doing this, they drop the whole social commentary or survival instinct or whatever issues that most zombie stories have. And I'm thinking that they avoided this because that would require some sort of emotion, and that sure as hell is not what they were looking to make here. Yup, World War Z, who promised us zombies and fun, becomes another pointless, soulless, forgettable action flick that (hopefully) will not make any money past its first run at the box office after everyone figures out that it sucks.

My goodness, there were so many just plain ridiculous things happening here that I couldn't keep up. First of all, Brad is supposed to go on this global mission with a UN doctor who manages to shoot himself in the head at almost the very second that they touch down in the first location. No, really. Why introduce a character who seems like he's going to be important if you're going to kill him before he fucking does anything? Who writes this shit? Who thinks it's a good idea to explode a grenade in an airplane? Why did a little microphone feedback make the zombies go crazy when the sounds of thousands of people, vehicles, and machinery in a small space did not?

This is perhaps the first zombie movie I've seen that shows an almost unprecedented amount of zombies and yet has little to no zombie action. It's PG-13, I get it. Still, there is not a drop of blood and wherever there should have been blood, they did it off-camera. So frustrating for this little gorehound right here. As for the now infamous "zombie pile-up" thing... yeah, I hated it. I hated it when I saw it in the previews, and hated it possibly even more when I finally saw the film. It was the CGI - which I am not entirely against unless it is on a scale like this. Let me explain it again: Yes, I know movies are fake, but in order to get me into the story which is what movies are supposed to do, I shouldn't be able to tell that it is fake. All those little CGI zombies scrambling like monkeys over each other to make it up this big wall in like, a minute? Ugh, I just saw it as a waste of money.

And seriously, were these things zombies or pterodactyls? Like, what the hell was that sound they were making? 'Cause I was thinking baby pterodactyls, I don't know about you. And every time that one zombie at the WHO building clicked his teeth together, the entire audience I was watching the movie with laughed their heads off. In fact, there was a lot more laughing at this movie than I think the filmmakers intended there to be.

The consensus among the group that I saw World War Z with was at first positive. Not a super-love reaction but an "Eh, that was alright" kind of thing, and that was my initial reaction as well. Thinking about it later, though, made me realize how much I didn't like it. I also realize now that this is and was perhaps never going to be a zombie movie in the way I was thinking - just an action movie that happens to have some zombies. So if you like that sort of thing, watch World War Z. If you actually like zombies, don't watch World War Z.

So was there a best or favorite part of this movie? Yes. The Raisinettes I got at the theater. Haven't had those things in a long time and they were delicious.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Movie Reviews: Park Chan-Wook's Vengeance Trilogy

I was thinking the other day (well, actually several days ago because it took me way longer than it should have to write all this) that it had been a while since I had watched an Asian movie - weird as that may sound - and realized that I never finished watching Oldboy. I KNOW. Then I also realized that Oldboy was actually a part of director Park Chan-Wook's "Vengeance Trilogy," three movies that aren't related story-wise at all but they do all deal with someone seeking revenge for various wrongdoings. So here they all are!

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
I watched the three movies a bit out of order, as I saw Oldboy first, then this one, then Lady Vengeance, and then this one again because I didn't quite get it the first time around. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is perhaps a good one to pay attention to because it introduces a kind of theme that I picked up from the other two movies. Of course they all deal with vengeance of some kind, but each movie also deals with two different levels of vengeance, or two people seeking vengeance for different but equally important reasons. In this one, Ryu is seeking out the organ thieves who took his kidney and his money which blew his chances of saving his sister - who later kills herself - by getting her a badly need kidney transplant. In turn, Dong-jin is seeking out Ryu for the accidental death of his daughter after she was kidnapped by Ryu so he could collect ransom to pay for the transplant.

Too confusing? That's what I thought at first and that's why I had to watch the movie twice to fully appreciate it. But it's a good way to get Park's message across and lends weight to the title of the film - you do have sympathy for both Mr. Vengeances. The actors playing Ryu and Dong-jin do a wonderful job, with Ryu being the lovable, fumbly not-so-good criminal, and Dong-jin being just the one-track-mind, heartbroken father.

You feel the pain of both of these characters, and the love they have for their respective family members. You want to jump into the screen and explain the situation to Dong-jin so he does not kill Ryu because it was just a stupid plan hatched out of desperation that went terribly awry. The end scene at the river finally shows that both of the characters actually understand this concept but the need for vengeance overcomes. In fact, the cycle doesn't end with them. While searching for Ryu, Dong-jin does something which causes others to seek vengeance on him. A nod to the old "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind" concept? I'm thinking yes.

The pace of the movie is quite slow, which actually helps when some of the more shocking incidents occur. There are a few key scenes of violence - Dong-jin interrogating Ryu's girlfriend with electrocution, Ryu killing the organ theives - but overall I wouldn't call the movie a violent one. The most shocking incident is when Yu-sun, Dong-jin's daugher, dies just because of how it all goes down, with Ryu completely unaware. That shot of her body half in and out of the water is also beautiful and heartbreaking.

There is also a quirky amount of comedy in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, a trait which would also be in both Oldboy and Lady Vengeance. My favorite example is when Ryu is looking after Yu-sun at his sister's apartment and purposefully makes her cry, then chases her around with a camera to get a convincing picture of her crying to send along with the ransom demand to her father. I got right away what he was doing and it totally cracked me up. Also Ryu's girlfriend's story of the man who thought he had two heads. Did he shoot the right or the left? I guess we'll never know!

Oldboy (2003)
Gah! This movie is awesome. There is no more honest way to put it. I had started watching it a loooong time ago on Netflix but something, I can't remember what, made me stop and I never went back to it. This movie-lover SNAFU has obviously now been rectified, and I am now hopelessly devoted to Oldboy, no doubt my favorite of the Vengeance Trilogy, and new overall favorite.

Park's direction is at first glance some of the same-old, same-old but when looked at closely, you notice that he deftly frames each shot and lets scenes linger just as long as they need to. There are so many iconic images from this film - the body falling on the car, the octopus eating, the teeth pulling, and the beyond awesome one-take hallway fight scene. Like, that was so cool, you guys. I loved how there would be a bit of fighting, then a pause, then more fighting, then a pause, then that great ending with all the bodies falling out of the elevator. Absolutely beautiful, and totally fucking amazing.

Our lead Oh Dae-su is played with gleeful ease and skill by Choi Min-sik, who would go on to kick even more ass in I Saw the Devil. The crazed looks he gave the camera during the scenes of his imprisonment were both funny and creepy. Antagonist Lee Woo-jin (who is also kinda hot) is played with cold and calculating brilliance by Yu Ji-tae, and he has perhaps his best moments during the movie's shocking reveal scene, where he lets Oh Dae-su know why he kept him imprisoned for 15 years and how he got his vengeance. Wrong. So wrong.

So then again, we have two different characters seeking vengeance for two different reasons. Oh Dae-su obviously wants those 15 years of his life back and Woo-jin is holding a long-standing grudge about the death of his sister. Contrary to Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, I felt no sympathy for Woo-jin or the lengths he went to in order to get his undeserved "revenge" on Dae-su. Woo-jin was putting the blame on someone else for a wrong he was the major cause of, and that is something that will not get me all teary-eyed for him. Dae-su, I really like you, man. You definitely did not deserve this crap.

Oldboy is easily the favorite of the three movies, probably because it is the most exciting and action-filled, while Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance serve as the two more quietly effective bookends. I think Oldboy is more easily accessible to a wider audience though, as I can see the other two movies boring the average movie-watcher. Oldboy again has Park's dry and dark wit, a more fluid method of story-telling, and an undeniably awesome lead character that you want to follow around to the end of the world. As a sort of contrast to the rest of the movie, Park throws in that wintry end sequence, which despite its ambiguities was actually a wonderful way to conclude the story.

My only problem with the movie is the aforementioned hardcore octopus-eating scene. As cool as that is, I am more than a little freaked out by octopi, so I almost ran screaming out of the room when the tentacles started sticking to his face and shit.

E gads! Seriously, get this out of my brain. I don't ever want to think about  it again.

Lady Vengeance [a.k.a. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance] (2005)
The trilogy concludes with Lady Vengeance, the story of a woman who goes to jail for 13 years for a crime she did not commit, and who has been planning all this time on how to get back to the man responsible. She confessed to the kidnapping and murder of a 5-year-old boy but only because the real murderer was threatening the life of her daughter. I'd rank this one as my second favorite because I love the evolvement of the story into something much bigger than it started out as.

The beautiful and fearless Lee Young Ae portrays our Lady Vengeance, Lee Geum-ja, and she can wear red eye shadow like nobody's business. She also wields a really sweet gun. Choi Min-sik returns to the trilogy as Mr. Baek, Geum-ja's target for vengeance, and he was almost unrecognizable to me at times just because of his glasses, which I know is kinda weird. He seems to be the perfect actor for these really cold, evil characters (like Kyun-chul in I Saw the Devil) because he can seem to be so perfect and normal on the outside. That thing with him and his wife at dinner? WTF?Some of the women who played prisoners were also strangely enjoyable, though I would never want to know them in real life.

The comedy element of the trilogy comes back into play with Lady Vengeance, mostly in the scenes at the women's prison (a very cushy prison, might I add) which were often disturbingly funny. Geum-ja's demeanor both in and out of prison are also quite delightful to watch, especially after you realize that her nice gal rep in prison was mostly a ruse to get what she wanted. Her true emotion only comes out when it deals with her lost daughter, Jenny, who has been raised by Australian foster parents. Jenny is not as super-excited to see her mother as Geum-ja would probably like, and Geum-ja feels the guilt of making Jenny feel abandoned and perhaps undeserving of her forgiveness.

Seeing two Australians in a Korean movie was also quite funny, I gotta say.

And again we have two different sets of vengeance-seekers here. Geum-ja actually sort of passes along her vengeance to others when she finds out Baek, who committed the murder she went to prison for, also killed several other children. Instead of personally killing him like she intended to, Geum-ja brings together the dead children's parents and gives them the option of choosing what to do with Baek. Here, then, is every parent's dilemma - if you had the chance to kill the person who hurt or killed your child, would you actually do it? And would it be worth it? I also found a bit of dark comedy in this sequence as well (with the parents in their plastic coverings and whatnot) but mostly I was feeling the pain too. Geum-ja almost tortures the parents by showing them videos of their children just before they died and I can't help but wonder if she did that just so they would kill Baek. As if their vengeance was more deserving than hers. Maybe yes... maybe no. You decide.

Lady Vengeance did a wonderful job of balancing out some very serious and emotional issues with some of the kick-ass stuff that we want to see in revenge films. The acting is terrific, there are more iconic scenes and individual shots (I particularly like the one of Geum-ja smoking while laughing hysterically and throwing her head back), and there are true issues about the price of vengeance raised. Great movie.

As for the Vengeance Trilogy as a whole, I give it two big thumbs up. There's lots of good stuff in all of the movies and though they are not technically related in any way, they all seem like they belong together in a trilogy for their similarities in themes and style. If you only see one, that's good! But you should definitely see them all.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie Review: The Purge (2013)

Came back from watching The Purge Saturday afternoon (meant to have this up much sooner, but of course I suck), and I'm still a little pissed off because it turned out to be yet another movie that left me confused and not knowing what to think about it. I hate having to keep saying that a movie was not what I was expecting it to be... but The Purge was not what I was expecting it to be. It does good things and it does bad things. It does unexpected things and it does terribly predictable things. So do I like the movie or not?

The Purge takes place in the not-too-distant future (2022) where the whole world is full of shiny happy people because there's no unemployment and crime is way down. For one night every year though, the government sanctions a night of "purging" for all citizens, wherein any crime is legal for 12 hours and no emergency services are available. The film follows one affluent family on this dangerous night.

So The Purge is a bit of a hybrid - we'll call it home-invasion-horror-thriller-social-commentary. And I can tell that it's trying really hard to be all of these things at one time. At actually accomplishing being all of these things to the audience, the movie is a bit of a letdown. There are a lot of interesting questions raised, just not explored in the way I wanted them to be. I also need to point out somewhere (why not here?) about how happy I was to see Lena Headey in a starring role, as I have never seen Game of Thrones. Love this woman. Ethan Hawke is alright, but his character feels like every other character he's ever played so I was a little less impressed.

I wasn't all that happy with the masked killers. Nothing original about them. They wear their creepy masks and white dresses, and stand in front of the security camera and do creepy things to taunt the family - but these were all things that would have been a lot creepier if I didn't feel like I had seen all of this before. Insert the name of another home invasion movie here (do I have to say it, really?). The leader of the group? He's the dudes from Funny Games, straight up. Hated him, not only because he wasn't scary but also because he wasn't original, like the whole first half of this movie. It gets a little better toward the end when the story gets twisted around a little but not enough to give me a really satisfying conclusion.

Now let's talk about the concept of the Purge itself. When I first heard this concept for the movie, I was picturing total chaos, like people just hacking everybody up with axes or something. But then you have to really stop to think about how many people would actually participate in the Purge, if the main punishment-free crime we're talking about being exploited is murder. I'd venture to say that a good majority of the population would not be able to bring themselves to do it, and would be more worried about everyone else, like our little family in the movie. Everybody in the movie actually seems to be somewhat in favor of the Purge and I was surprised that Lena and Ethan (yup, forgot their movie names already) were trying to convince their children that this was actually a good thing. Either that or everyone is too afraid to speak out against the Purge. The argument is that it lets people get out all the aggression and rage that is built up inside them. I'm calling bullshit on that right now, but I'd probably need backup from psychiatrists or something so I'll let it slide.

Also on the concept of the Purge, the movie never takes the Purge past the initial idea. So okay... you can totally murder someone and get away with it. You can "purge" your world of all the people you don't like. Again, cool idea but they never went anywhere with it. The situation presented in the film really did nothing to help them explore that concept fully - it played out like just another home invasion movie. That subgenre, in turn, is played out exactly the way you would expect it to in a horror-thriller. The victims walk slowly down dark hallways. The killers pop up (un)expectedly. And there are more Deus ex Machinas than I could count, which got really freaking annoying after a while.

And I seriously have to mention this: How is the "no emergency services available" thing ANY different from ANY other horror movie out there? When do the cops and ambulances always show up in horror movies? At the end. So this had no effect on me or the story at all.

This is as good a time as any for me to rant about houses in movies. I fucking hate it when filmmakers try to show us a "typical American family" and then show us this family - who is supposed to be just like us - living in a 3-story house with a two-car garage and where the youngest child has a bedroom bigger than any living room I've ever had. Can somebody PLEASE make a movie where the main characters live in a cute little ranch-style house or something? A lot of the problems in The Purge could have been avoided if the family didn't live in such a huge house - everybody kept getting lost from one another in their own house. Would never have been a problem in my childhood home.

Was this really a review or did I just rant for a long time? Sorry, but this is all stuff that I've been thinking about since watching the movie and I had to put it down somewhere. I can't fully recommend The Purge because it was completely missing that "wow" factor that I have been desperately seeking in a movie lately, but it's also not a completely horrible movie. Others seem to have been more impressed with it than I was, so I guess it's up to you!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Movie Review: Texas Chainsaw (2013)

Maybe I need to call this post "In Defense of Texas Chainsaw" because despite relative box office success, it seems like this sequel is well, not everyone's favorite, to put it mildly. But I'm an honest gal so I have to say that I quite enjoyed this latest Leatherface installment. It's not the same movie you know and it's not the same story you know. It's not as gory or graphic as the remake (no seriously, it's not). If there is one thing I can say about Texas Chainsaw, it is that it definitely does its own thing and chooses to stand out from rather than blend in with the other two recent TCM releases both style-wise and story-wise. And that's not a bad thing.

One thing that took a little mental readjustment was, after the film started, figuring out where this story was going to fit into the TCM franchise. TCM 2003 was obviously a remake of the original. TCM: The Beginning from 2006 was a prequel to the remake, yes? Well, TC 2013 goes off completely somewhere else and is actually a sequel to the original 1974 film. Insert confused face here. Granted, I knew all this before watching the movie but it was still quite jarring, and the little men inside my brain had to stop me from bringing out the files on all the other movies while I watching TC. Here, then, is the story we are dealing with:

Following Sally's escape from Leatherface, the men of Newt, Texas send a mob to the Sawyer house and burn it to the ground. Everyone is assumed dead except for the youngest Sawyer, a baby girl secretly taken away by one of the men to be raised as his and his wife's own. Years later the girl grows up and inherits a house from an unknown grandmother and when she and her friends travel there to make it official, they once again unleash Leatherface on the town.

I always love a good nod to the fans or to horror history in movies, so I couldn't help feeling geekily excited when they showed scenes from the original TCM during the opening credits. It also helped with the aforementioned confusion over the timeline, and brought the movie back down to a more sort of realistic level that the original had - there is violence, for sure, but to me it seemed to be quite downgraded, with not a lot of fanfare or flashy set pieces or effects work just for the sake of it. Does this in turn mean that TC loses a lot of the franchise's known intensity and ferociousness? Yes, it does. But again, I liked this change of pace and tone for this movie. Call me crazy. I accept it. At least they attempted to come up with a semi-decent story this time.

Going back to the timeline, though - am I the only one who didn't understand the switch from flashback to present day worked? There is no specific year given for when the present time is actually happening but it seems to be in our present year (based mostly on the lawyer's car). So if the original was from 1974... and the little baby from then is now in her early 20s... she didn't really age that much in 40 years. Interesting.

The new Leatherface, now named Jed Sawyer, is still basically the same character - little kid in a big boy's body and the big boy likes to play with chainsaws. But another point where TC makes a detour from the usual fare seen in these movies is that Leatherface is not the only threat. Once Heather discovers what happened to her real family (the police officers conveniently left the whole case file in the room for her to look at), she suddenly gets a murderous case of family loyalty. The mob from the beginning wants to finish what they started and she sides with her long-lost cousin. This is a bit hinky, considering what Leatherface did to her friends but the only way I can justify it is that she realizes that she has no one else. It's also hinky considering what the audience knows about her real family but that is not really addressed so we're basically asked to just forget about it, and look at the mob men as the real bad guys instead of Leatherface. Sure, whatever you say.

By the way, Leatherface actually makes a very fine first appearance here. It's very subtle and only slightly creepy but nonetheless effective when Heather walks into the kitchen after finding Verna Carson's dug up body in a chair, and sees Leatherface just standing there. I found it similar to his subtle but exceedingly memorable entrance from the original and I dug it.

There are some nice chainsaw- and not-chainsaw-related kills although nothing particularly noteworthy until the end. As horror fans, we should all love to see the human body get mutilated beyond recognition. Let's just say that there is a gigantic meat grinder involved in the climax and you should at least look forward to that if nothing else from this movie. There's more impalings on meat hooks and random limb-chopping - obviously nothing all that memorable since I can't really remember much more. Maybe this is the reason they dropped the "massacre" from the title because there isn't much of a massacre at all. In that case, I accept the strange new title.

Despite some of the movie's obvious flaws, I still stand by my positive opinion of it. It had the guts (or as some would argue, the stupidity) to do things differently and shake things up. Granted, I'm looking into the future and - hopefully - not seeing any more TCM movies after this one but that's purely speculative. I really don't think Texas Chainsaw '13 was a bad turn for the series, Swiss cheese plot and all, because it was no doubt a fresh take on an old story, and I like being the kind of person who can still respect that. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

You know what? No. 

I can't do it. I can't even try to enjoy these RE movies anymore, or review them. They're not even trying. This was a pretty good 90-minute commercial, but as a movie, I am wholly unimpressed and in fact, I've already forgotten most of it and I just finished watching it about a half hour ago (as of this writing, that is). The scale has gotten so big on these movies that the little things are forgotten and the focus is completely on unrealistic fight sequences (that last sequence in the snow? Seriously, there needs to be a universal time limit on fight sequences like that) and making pretty CGI. The story - ha, what story? - is pulled from several different video games at once and I just don't know where the hell we are anymore. There is undoubtedly another RE in store for us, but I for one am over these movies.

Not the first one, though. The first one still kicks ass.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Movie Review: Mama (2013)

Seriously, does anybody know what "scary" means anymore? Or do I just believe in a different definition of the word? I loves me my little Guillermo Del Toro but some of the stuff he has been involved in lately have been real disappointments, Mama being one of them. I really wanted something truly creepy with this one, perhaps a la The Devil's Backbone, and many reviews promised me that my wish would come true. Sadly, Mama left me only bored and, again, disappointed with this ghost movie, when the mere mention of ghosts should have been enough to make me happy.

In Mama, two young girls who were abandoned at a remote cabin by their father after he shot their mother are found five years later by the girls' uncle. Almost feral, the girls are sent to live with their uncle Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel while continuing to be under the care of a psychiatrist. But the girls did not come back alone, as they are followed by a mysterious entity who took care of them in the woods - someone(thing) they simply call "Mama."

So maybe the main problem I had with Mama did not come from the movie itself but rather from me. Maybe I'm just a cold-hearted bitch but all the talk about how this movie was so emotionally heartbreaking and sad was completely lost on me. If it was supposed to be about the deep bond between mother and child, it was a failure at getting to me. And yes, I do have a mother. But she is not a scary ghost who lives in the walls so excuse me for not making any connection to my real life.

I totally got the parallel between the grieving, desperate mother (Mama) versus the reluctant mother (Annabel). But was I seriously supposed to sympathize with either of these characters? I felt a little bit for Annabel, whom we learn right away does not want to be a mother just yet - i.e. her relief over the negative pregnancy test - because I have no desire to be mother either. And if I were asked to suddenly take on not only two mostly grown children but also children with serious issues, I would not be so happy about it, like Annabel. I do think that it would have helped the story if she had warmed up to Lilly and Victoria a little bit sooner because she was terribly unlikable for a good chunk of the movie. She was kind of a bitch, really.

I never sympathized with Mama herself either because really, why should I? Not just because she was a big, freaky, body-contorting ghost that at least Victoria seemed more than a little terrified of, but also there was nothing in her story that made me care all that much about her. All I know was that she was a crazy woman who ran away from an asylum and then jumped off a cliff with her infant in her arms. Awesome mother right there, for sure. She was sad about losing her baby? She. Jumped. Off. A. Cliff. With her baby. She is not better than any other mother who loses her child to horrible circumstance - she was the cause of it. Sure, Mama served as Lilly and Victoria's protectors during those five long years in the cabin (and saved Victoria from being shot in the head) but this only made her more dangerous. She felt that the girls belonged to her, and therefore killed anyone who threatened her, and... well, she did that whole thing at the end which I (surprisingly) will not spoil. And you want me to get all emotional over this??? No. I'm sorry, but no. Please get rid of the floaty, murderous ghost.

Another problem I had with Mama was what I saw to be a real lack of exposition scenes. Most of the time it seemed like they were trying to get through some scenes or plot points as quick as possible so that they could get to the next scary scene. Luke falls down the stairs and is in a coma - two minutes, then boom, bring out Mama again to try to scare us. Annabel never visits Luke in the hospital again? Never sheds any tears or shows any worry at all that the man she loves is in a freaking coma? And while we're on the subject of things that were missing from the story, this might be a little nitpick, but where was the therapy and treatment for Lilly and Victoria after they went home? Lilly was still crawling around on all fours eating bugs. She obviously needed intense treatment and help from a professional but is sent to live with two people with no experience with children after only 87 days. Victoria is hypnotized and interviewed by Dr. Dreyfuss several times when his only concern is with Mama and not with helping these girls get back to normal life.  

Okay, now about the scary thing. Mama was not the least bit scary or creepy. One scene, one little scene only was good but the rest was simply cheap jump scares that never made me jump. Big CGI-Mama spent way too much time in front of the camera, showing us all the cool ghost-type things she could do. I hate to constantly play the old school card, but it is still true that what is not seen is often scarier than what is seen. Mama lost all her mystery too early on in the film so that every time she rushes the camera all fast or something, the scare was a flop. And giving us one scare after another doesn't work either. You need suspense-building scenes in between them, and Mama had no suspense to speak of. The one good scene I will mention is when Lilly is playing in her room and someone whom we're supposed to assume is Victoria starts playing blanket tug-of-war with her off camera. They show Annabel walking around the hall with a laundry basket, and then Victoria comes out of a room down the hall too - all while someone(thing) is pulling on Lilly's blanket. That was well played and a little creepy, even though they might have let it go on too long. Also, moths are not scary. Just sayin'.

Mama is not a movie that I hated or one that I thought was technically bad in any way - besides the CGI overuse - it is just another one that fell terribly short of my expectations. Perhaps other viewers in a different frame of mind than I am were able to enjoy and get invested in the story, but this girl who loves horror saw nothing that she loved in Mama.