Will ‘Mama’ Become Jessica Chastain’s ‘Norbit?’

This lady also looks like she could take down Osama bin Laden.

Jessica Chastain is basically the frontrunner to win Best Actress at this year’s Oscars, alongside Jennifer Lawrence, but there may be a little bit of a hiccup for Ms. Chastain that goes by the name of Mama. You see, the reviews for Chastain’s new horror flick are not so great, and we all remember what happened to Best Supporting Actor frontrunner Eddie Murphy when Norbit came out…

Now, to be fair, Mama is not getting anywhere near as dismal reviews as Norbit was, and even the bad ones tend to be positive about Chastain’s performance. But you never can tell with these things.

See what the critics are saying below.

Mama has a bad title and a ridiculous premise—a financier goes around the bend, murders his wife and two business partners, kidnaps his two small daughters, Victoria and Lilly, and drags them off to a cabin in the snowy woods to kill them too. But just as he aims the gun and prepares to fire, something from another world sweeps down like a screaming banshee, drags him out of the cabin and chews him to toothpicks. The children are abandoned in the forest, cold and terrified, to live like animals, eating nothing but cherries. Five years later, they are discovered, crawling on all fours, and sent to live with their father’s twin brother Lucas (Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his freaky gothic rock guitarist girlfriend, Annabel (yet another ill-advised career move by Jessica Chastain), who, for no plausible reason, agree to act as guardians. They haven’t a clue what they’re in for, which is a spook show that makes Hansel and Gretel look like an Our Gang comedy.” – NY Observer

“A chiller about two abandoned little girls and their bond to the wraith of the title, Mama never delivers the primal terror its premise would suggest. Instead, the movie—the first feature by Andy Muschietti, who co-scripted with his sibling Barbara and Neil Cross—distracts with too much foolishness: namely, Jessica Chastain plucking a bass guitar in a jet-black pageboy wig, tattoo sleeve, and Misfits T-shirt.” – Village Voice

“Chastain acquits herself well in a scream-queen role made somewhat more distinctive by a butch haircut and sarcastic goth-girl edge, and she wrings maximum feeling from Annabel’s slow-dawning sense of connection with her young charges (effectively portrayed by young Charpentier and Nelisse). Yet in straining so hard to combat the assumption that a woman like Annabel couldn’t possibly be a good mother, the film protests rather too much, coming across as not much more enlightened than the waspy great-aunt (played as a one-note cold fish by Jane Moffat) trying to secure custody of the girls.” – Variety

Mama lifts almost every one of its fear-factor visuals from earlier films: the rotting black passageways that spread like mold over the walls (very Ringu meets Repulsion); the crouched figures that skitter and pounce à la the infamous ”spider” outtake from the original Exorcist; the way that Mama, with her arms like smoky-shadowy bent tendrils, evokes both the monster from the Alien films and also, in a funny way, the crumpled-puppet gothic mischievousness of Tim Burton animation. Nothing in the movie is quite original, yet Muschietti, expanding his original short (see box), knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve. It helps to have an actress on hand as soulful as Jessica Chastain, who, with her severe black-bang haircut, suggests Liv Ullmann playing Joan Jett. The reason her performance matters is that even though Mama is just a megaplex horror bash that keeps goosing you with shrieky blasts on the soundtrack, its true subject is motherly love.” – EW

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