Metascore
57

Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 35
  2. Negative: 3 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jan 17, 2013
    50
    The atmosphere is appropriately creepy, and there are some starts, if not outright scares...But it just gets stupid.
  2. Reviewed by: Louis Black
    Jan 16, 2013
    67
    Haunting and extremely atmospheric, Mama is a horror film imbued with an unsettling and affecting power.
  3. Reviewed by: Tom Russo
    Jan 17, 2013
    50
    The frustration, though, is how much the movie leans on made-ya-jump scares and contrived plot devices when its quieter chills and already fraught setups are so potent.
  4. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 17, 2013
    75
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Jan 16, 2013
    75
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Emily Rome
    Jan 16, 2013
    75
    Nothing in the movie is quite original, yet Muschietti, expanding his original short, knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve.
  7. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Feb 26, 2013
    67
    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.
  8. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Feb 26, 2013
    50
    Beautifully envisioned, badly constructed, the only truly terrifying things in the new horror movie Mama are the fake tattoos, short black hair and black T-shirts meant to turn "Zero Dark Thirty" star Jessica Chastain into a guitar-shredding, punk rocker chick.
  9. 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.
  10. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 18, 2013
    60
    It's a good, old-fashioned sit-around-the-campfire ghost story, one that delivers on its sole reason for existence: to raise the hairs on the back of your arms.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jan 17, 2013
    40
    If you're going to have a ghost in your movie, it might be a good thing to present a viable alternative to that ghost. Mama, however, presents a battle between two not very good options before crumbling like a sheet on a string.
  12. 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.
  13. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jan 15, 2013
    50
    Trading in her red locks for kohl-lined eyes like a raccoon and the vampire look of Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, [Chastain] is the spookiest thing in Mama. Everything else is cable television.
  14. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jan 17, 2013
    63
    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.
  15. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Jan 18, 2013
    58
    What more often sinks Mama is, well, Mama herself. Much like another recent homage to a spookier era of horror, 2011's "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" - which, like Mama, was executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro - Muschietti's film shows its monster too early and too often.
  16. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jan 17, 2013
    75
    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?
  17. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jan 17, 2013
    50
    The visual design of Mama is effective, at least in small, quick doses. But those are about all the positives for this example of why a solid audition reel doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to churn out a feature.
  18. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 21, 2013
    63
    Narrative weakness and bad horror tropes get in the way and Mama's ending disappoints.
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jan 17, 2013
    63
    Chastain digs deep, going beyond the call of scream-queen duty to find the passion that gives horror a pulse.
  20. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jan 17, 2013
    75
    Mama is skillfully made, and although Chastain is the best thing in it, she's not the only thing in it.
  21. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Jan 16, 2013
    12
    The premise isn't even worthy of executive producer Guillermo del Toro, who will apparently lend his name to any film as long as it fulfills its quota of moths and vulvic openings.
  22. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jan 24, 2013
    70
    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.
  23. Reviewed by: Kevin C. Johnson
    Jan 17, 2013
    75
    The finale is heavy on CGI. But it never takes away from this respectable entry into the horror genre that values chills over kills.
  24. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Jan 16, 2013
    83
    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.
  25. Reviewed by: Adam Nayman
    Jan 21, 2013
    50
    The film's long middle section is basically "Paranormal Activity" sans that series' handicam aesthetic, as things go bump in the night and the grown-ups take forever to get their act together.
  26. Reviewed by: Xan Brooks
    Feb 22, 2013
    40
    It has been converted into a proficient, machine-tooled horror flick, stuffed full of shocks and buttressed with back-story. Mama got so flabby the second time around.
  27. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Jan 16, 2013
    70
    Mama represents a throwback and a modest delight for people who like a good scare but prefer not to be terrorized or grossed out.
  28. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jan 17, 2013
    80
    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.
  29. Reviewed by: Erik McClanahan
    Jan 17, 2013
    33
    By the time the ridiculous child psychologist character encounters a government employee with a convenient bounty of useful information, Mama just becomes laughable, then annoying.
  30. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Jan 17, 2013
    40
    Mama is clumsily written and choppily edited, but Chastain doesn't have a bad scene in it, and you can see why she chose to be in this supernatural ghost story.
User Score
6.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 236 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 49 out of 76
  2. Negative: 11 out of 76
  1. Feb 10, 2013
    9
    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 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
    2
    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 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. Jan 19, 2013
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. This was a disappointment - expected more from Del Toro, even if he wasn't directing. The premise was interesting enough and riffing off financial collapse (now that is a horror movie) was a promising start. But despite good acting and decent cinematography the film falls into cliches and is disjointed. And can we all admit that CGI is not frightening? It just pulled me right out of the film and any hope of feeling horror soon turned into annoyance. There were a number of jolting moments but generally these turned out to be cheap stunts to get a rise from the audience. I'd recommend as a rental. Full Review »