Having a tagline like “Guillermo del Toro Presents” automatically gives a film a higher stature of visibility, and so it is with Mama, a new haunted house thriller starring up-and-coming actress Jessica Chastain (Lawless, The Help) and actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is best known for his role as Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones.

The story revolves around Lucas (Coster Waldau) and Annabel (Chastain), a couple who inherit Lucas’ two young nieces Victoria and Lilly, after the girls are discovered in the woods, where they have been living a savage existence for five years. Annabel reluctantly tries to warm to these two young additions in her life – but the more the girls come to accept their new family, the more strange incidents start occurring around the house. The girls claim that the vengeful spirit of their mother wants to hold on to them forever – but is it just the psychosis of two traumatized children, or is something evil truly after them?

Mama marks the feature-film writing/directorial debut of Andres Muschietti, and is based on the 2008 short film of the same name that Muschietti wrote and directed. It’s a promising sign that writer Neil Cross helped with the script; if you’ve listened to our Screen Rant podcast, you may have heard us raving about Cross, who created and wrote the excellent BBC series Luther  – a crime procedural that is sometimes horror-movie scary in its own right. Cross’ presence gives us high hopes for Mama’s scare-factor.


Chastain is likewise a sign of promise, as the Oscar-nominated actress has thus far chosen carefully and wisely as far as her film roles go. Besides the aforementioned Lawless and The Help, she’s headlined Terrence Malick’s opus The Tree of Life alongside Brad Pitt; starred opposite Man of Steel villain Michael Shannon in the acclaimed indy psychodrama Take Shelter; was a breakout presence in espionage drama The Debt; with another potential breakout role on the way this year with Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow’s military political thriller Zero Dark Thirty. We expect that at the very least, she’ll carry this movie well.

Add in the fact that Guillermo del Toro is backing this film as executive producer, and there is no reason to think that Mama won’t be able to deliver a solid wintertime horror movie creepfest – similar to how The Woman in Black did early this year.

Mama will be in theaters on January 18, 2013.

Source: Universal Pictures (via Apple)