Reviewed on 2013 May 8
I had high hopes for this movie. Guillermo de Toro was the executive producer, and even if one of his horror films doesn’t frighten me, I still feel like I’ve watched a cool, stylized story. This movie was more unsettling than scary; what could have been a dark fairy tale was watered down a bit too much, in my opinion. It’s still a decent horror film, which in this day and age is like spotting a Great Auk.
After an unspeakable family tragedy, two little girls are thought to be dead. Years later, they’re found in a remote house in the woods, alive but half-feral. Their Uncle Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Aunt Annabel (Jessica Chastain) take the children in. Annabel is a punk rocker who never planned on being a mother, but she rolls up her sleeves and fights alongside Luke to adopt them.
Instant parenthood must be hard enough under the best circumstances. Nothing about this is going to be easy. Annabel is a good person with no innate maternal drive, and the girls can’t warm up to her. The older child, Victoria (Megan Charpentier), tries to fit in more, but little Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse) has a much harder time adapting. She still sleeps under the bed and hides. The real problems start when Annabel and Luke learn something followed the girls from the woods.
This starts out promisingly, with some good scares of both the jump and the guess-I-won’t-sleep-tonight variety, then starts to fall apart at the end. I’d like a bit more backstory on who or what Mama was, but I do give it points for being non-linear and keeping me watching to the end. Jessica Chastain worked well with the 100 allotted minutes, doing a convincing job as a woman who never wanted children and is doing her best to take care of them. The little girls did amazing work with what must have been a very tough acting job.
Two chocolate morsels. Meh, but there’s so much dreck in this genre.