Here's the trailer:
Looks like a by the number horror film trailer right? Something spooky, "they brought something back with them," ooh ooh ooh, jump at you, scary thing! If you went to see any of the Paranormal activity films in the past few years you feel like you've seen this.
But since Guillermo is involved, he of Pan's Labrynth and the Hellboy films, I felt confident that there was more to meet the eye here.
After seeing the film I can say that, yes, there is more going on, but not exactly in the way I thought.
First of all, I was mistaken, Del Toro is the Executive Producer of the film. Not the director. The director is this guy, Andrés Muschietti:
And this is his first full length feature. You'll note that one of his two previous shorts is also called Mamá, which is of course no coincidence. Spoiler alert before clicking the next link, a similar shot for shot scene is in the film but it plays out a bit differently so up to you if you watch it:
So, if you watched that and thought it looked good you'll probably enjoy Mama. However, if you go to this film expecting another Guillermo Del Toro tour de force like Pan's Labyrinth you will be disappointed. As horror films go it's ok. There's some legit good scares, and the overall feel to the film is pretty creepy. Good music and decent special effects But like any other horror film you might care to name, once you start to understand the motivations and backstory of the boogyman/creature/ghost/goblin/whatever it loses it's power to frighten. And honestly, it's hard to be scared by something that you feel bad for.
After watching the film there were a few plot points and questions I had which were probably partially caused by editing choices. There are a few shots in the trailer I linked above which didn't make it into the final film. And, yes, that is to be expected from a first time director. But again, I wasn't expecting this to be a first time director film, so you got me again marketing. I don't regret seeing this film but I probably wouldn't have gone if I knew it wasn't actually Guillermo Del Toro behind the camera.
I'll say 7 out of 10 as I did jump a few times, got goosebumps once, and thought that the lead actress was pretty foxy. Rotten tomatoes pegs this at a 62% critic, 69% for audience.
So, now you're informed.