Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 35
  2. Negative: 3 out of 35

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Jan 16, 2013
    Plenty of horror movies are willing to settle for making audiences jump. Mama is more ambitious by far: It makes sure viewers are emotionally committed even when they aren't clutching their armrests or covering their eyes.
  2. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jan 17, 2013
    Instead of delivering buckets of guts and gore, this ghost story offers a strong sense of time and place, along with the kind of niceties that don't often figure into horror flicks, notably pictorial beauty, an atmosphere throbbing with dread and actors so good that you don't want anyone to take an ax to them.
  3. 75
    Horror is all about that short-circuit the screen's technical manipulations cause in our brain, so this isn't high art. But Mama is easily the most moving, most chilling ghost story since "Insidious," an emotional tale efficiently and affectingly told.
  4. Reviewed by: Kevin C. Johnson
    Jan 17, 2013
    The finale is heavy on CGI. But it never takes away from this respectable entry into the horror genre that values chills over kills.
  5. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jan 17, 2013
    Mama is skillfully made, and although Chastain is the best thing in it, she's not the only thing in it.
  6. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jan 17, 2013
    An effectively spooky ghost story with Guillermo del Toro's imprimatur (he's executive producer), Mama is every adoptive parent's nightmare: What if the children you bring home start eating moths and toilet paper, and won't come out from under the bed? And when they do, it's only to do something hurtful?
  7. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 17, 2013
    Muschietti does an excellent job of revealing just enough about Mama as we go along (and just enough of Mama herself) to show he's in control of this genre.
  8. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Jan 16, 2013
    Movies like Mama are thrill rides. We go to be scared and then laugh, scared and then laugh, scared and then shocked. Of course, there's almost always a little plot left over for a sequel. It's a ride I'd take again.
  9. Reviewed by: Emily Rome
    Jan 16, 2013
    Nothing in the movie is quite original, yet Muschietti, expanding his original short, knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve.
  10. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jan 24, 2013
    Like most haunted-house stories, Mama gets steadily less scary as its (for the most part, fairly predictable) secrets unfold. But even if the beats are familiar, Muschietti sustains a remarkable mood throughout: wintry, elemental and stark, like a late Sylvia Plath poem.
  11. 70
    The plotting isn't fresh, and the politics are a tad reactionary, but the movie is also shapely, rounded, satisfying - a classical ghost story.
  12. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Jan 16, 2013
    Mama represents a throwback and a modest delight for people who like a good scare but prefer not to be terrorized or grossed out.
  13. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Feb 26, 2013
    Mama is one of those pictures that holds you aloft on its vaporous mood of dread – the occasional silliness of the plot mechanics don’t matter so much.
  14. Reviewed by: Louis Black
    Jan 16, 2013
    Haunting and extremely atmospheric, Mama is a horror film imbued with an unsettling and affecting power.
  15. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 21, 2013
    Narrative weakness and bad horror tropes get in the way and Mama's ending disappoints.
  16. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jan 17, 2013
    First-time writer-director Andy Muschietti, an Argentine discovered by Guillermo del Toro, relies too much, especially in the early going, on horror clichés (sudden loud noises and jagged blasts of music), but he does make the tension hum.
  17. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jan 17, 2013
    Chastain digs deep, going beyond the call of scream-queen duty to find the passion that gives horror a pulse.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 365 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 86
  2. Negative: 13 out of 86
  1. Feb 10, 2013
    One of those very rare horror flicks tat never fail to impress u.A lot of genuine scary scenes.Even if ur one of those people who can sitOne of those very rare horror flicks tat never fail to impress u.A lot of genuine scary scenes.Even if ur one of those people who can sit through all of the scenes that cause a stir the storyline will never disappoint u.the story has been well written.The movie is calm and quiet throughout the story moves at a decent pace...also not one of those dull movies or those set of horror movies that end on a depressing note..and yes, it also does a brilliant job at making u jump out of your seat when u have to unlike most other movies that try to force tat upon u and fail. Full Review »
  2. Jan 22, 2013
    If you like horror movies with non stop CGI, a storyline used over and over, unlikable characters, no real scares, and a ghost that looks likeIf you like horror movies with non stop CGI, a storyline used over and over, unlikable characters, no real scares, and a ghost that looks like something out of a bad cartoon. Than this is for you. The theater was laughing non stop at the stupid that is Mama. Its as dumb as the title. Full Review »
  3. Aug 13, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Mama has a really crazy story, having the so called "entity" feel much more realistic and physical-ish. The Mama entity is so chilling to see, loved every aspect, it's so interesting to see that the kids are so natural and relaxed around it. Couldn't ask for a better cast; I love Jessica Chastain, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau characters they have great chemistry. This cinematographer, Antonio Riestra... wow amazing at keeping me at the edge of my seat. Also props go to Michele Conroy for editing. And don't I want to forget the Director, Andrés Muschietti, for doing such an amazing job! Mama will forever remain in my Top Horror movies of All time!! Full Review »