Blu-ray Review: Mama

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mamaBrace yourselves, folks, because our friends out at Universal sent over a real doozy for us to cover today. Today it’s all about “Mama”, and though it won’t be out until May 7, it’s going to be well worth your time.

“Mama” follows two little girls–very little, really, aged one and three–who find themselves taken from their homes by their father, who just went on a killing spree. He was about to top it off with killing the little girls and then himself, effectively emptying a revolver with the day’s killing, when he’s suddenly, viciously, taken away by…something. The same something, ostensibly, that keeps the children safe. Some time later, the children are found living largely feral in the woods, with stories of an invisible guardian figure named “Mama”. Reconstructing the story of what happened to the little girls–and just who, or what “Mama” actually is–will lead us down some very dark paths, and may well end up taking a few victims before it’s done.

This is actually based on an original short from Guillermo del Toro, and if you haven’t already seen it, be sure to watch it before you watch the full movie. Even with the introduction thrown in–which frankly wasn’t at all necessary; the short speaks for itself–the whole thing runs just four and a half minutes, and it’s very, very much worth it. I seldom recommend a special feature before the feature, but this really gives you an idea of what will be going on, even if there’s some significant retooling that’s been done here. They’ve added about 97 minutes of material out of pure whole cloth, but it’s still going to be some good whole cloth.

Seriously, some very, very good whole cloth here. There are some great shots of things just showing up in the grandest “Insidious” style–if you loved that shock value every time that red thing showed up, “Mama” will have more than a little of that going on here. But there’s also some colder scares here, gradual, creeping stuff, the “something just ain’t right here” phenomena that may go unexplained but never without impact. The overall effect is excellent, and this is, on average, some truly top-notch horror going on right here. The ending is a bit out of place, really, but still isn’t half bad.

Special features include your choice of English or Spanish audio options and “descriptive video service”, which marks the first time I’ve seen it available on a home video release and extra kudos go to Universal for putting this on there! But that’s not all; there’s also a feature commentary track, your choice of English, Spanish and French subtitles, a copy of the original Guillermo del Toro short, a set of deleted scenes, some BD-Live features for connected players, a making of featurette, a visual effects featurette, and trailers for “Dead in Tombstone,” “Side Effects,” “Grimm,” “The Unborn,” “White Noise,” “My Soul to Take,” “Dream House,” “The Strangers,” “The Fourth Kind,” and “The Last House on the Left.”

“Mama” may not end quite as well as we might like, but the ride getting there will be an adrenaline junkie’s dream. This is some fine and fantastic horror, and with a bare minimum of gore, we get a good look at how barely glimpsed horrors set to run riot occasionally are the recipe for a prime session.

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