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Mama is a 2013 supernatural horror film directed and co-written by Andy Muschietti in his directorial debut and based on his 2008 Argentine short film Mamá. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, and Javier Botet as the title character.

The film follows two young girls abandoned in a forest cabin, fostered by an unknown entity that they fondly call Mama , which eventually follows them to their new suburban home led by two adults after their uncle retrieves them.

It was produced by J. Miles Dale and co-writer Barbara Muschietti, with Guillermo del Toro serving as executive producer. The film was theatrically released in theaters on 18 January 2013, by Universal Pictures. Mama received mixed reviews from critics, with many praising the performances and atmosphere, with criticism for plot and writing. The film was a box office success, grossing $146 million against a $15 million budget.


Distraught after losing his fortune in the 2008 financial crisis, stockbroker Jeffrey Desange murders his colleagues and his estranged wife before taking his young daughters, 3-year-old Victoria and 1-year-old Lily, away from home. Driving dangerously fast on a snowy road, Jeffrey loses control; the car slides down the mountain and crashes in the woods, breaking Victoria s glasses. Surviving the collision, he takes the children into an abandoned cabin. Planning to kill his daughters and then himself, he prepares to shoot Victoria but is attacked and killed by a shadowy figure.

Five years later, a rescue party, sponsored by Jeffrey s identical twin brother Lucas, finds a now 8-year-old Victoria and a now 6-year-old Lily in the cabin, alive but in a feral state after five years of isolation. The girls are put in a welfare clinic under the watch of Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss. They make reference to Mama , a mysterious maternal protector figure. The girls are initially hostile to Lucas, but Victoria recognizes him after he gives her a pair of glasses and she can see properly. Dreyfuss agrees to support Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel s custody claim against the girls maternal great-aunt, Jean Podolski, as long as Dreyfuss is allowed to monitor the girls progress. Victoria acclimates quickly to domestic life while Lily retains much of her feral behavior.

Lucas is attacked by a mysterious entity and put into a coma, leaving Annabel to care for the girls alone. Though reluctant at first, she makes progress with Victoria, but Lily remains hostile. Alarmed by nightmares of a strange woman and Victoria s warning about Mama s jealousy, Annabel asks Dreyfuss to investigate further. Dreyfuss’s research brings to light the story of Edith Brennan, a mentally-ill asylum patient who died in the 1800s; he recovers a box from a government warehouse containing a baby s remains.

Annabel has a dream revealing Edith s past; when Edith was sent to the asylum, her child was taken from her and given to nuns. She escaped the asylum and took her baby back, stabbing one of the nuns caring for the baby in the process. Fleeing her pursuers, Edith jumped off a cliff, but before hitting the water below, she and the child made impact with a large branch. Edith drowned, but the child s body snagged on the branch and did not fall with her into the water. Annabel realizes that Edith still hasn t realized her child was caught on the tree, and doesn t understand why her baby wasn t in the water with her. Mama, Edith s troubled ghost, searched the woods for her child for years until she discovered Victoria and Lily and took them as substitutes.

Lucas regains consciousness after a vision of his dead twin tells him to go to the cabin in order to save his daughters. Victoria s growing closeness to Annabel makes her less willing to play with Mama, unlike Lily. Dreyfuss visits the cabin and is killed by Mama. Annabel takes Dreyfuss’s case file on Mama, including the body of her baby. Annabel and the girls are attacked by a jealous Mama, who kills Aunt Jean and uses her body to spirit the children away. Annabel and Lucas find the children on the same cliff where Mama leaped with her infant to their deaths over a century earlier, intent on re-enacting the deadly fall with Victoria and Lily.

When Annabel offers Mama the remains of her infant, Mama recognizes the child as her lost baby, and her appearance briefly turns human. However, when Annabel and Lucas try to bring the girls to safety, Lily calls out for Mama, causing her to revert to her monstrous form and attempt to take the girls again. Annabel clings to Victoria, who asks to stay with Annabel instead of leaving with Mama, which Mama accepts. After a tearful farewell, Mama and Lily plummet off the cliff. Mama and Lily happily embrace before hitting the branch, turning into a shower of moths. Annabel and Lucas embrace Victoria, who notices a moth landing on her hand, suggesting that Lily is still with her in spirit.


  • Jessica Chastain as Annabel Annie
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Lucas Luke Desange / Jeffrey Desange
  • Megan Charpentier as Victoria Desange Morgan McGarry as Young Victoria
  • Morgan McGarry as Young Victoria
  • Isabelle Nélisse as Lily Desange Maya and Sierra Dawe as Young Lily
  • Maya and Sierra Dawe as Young Lily
  • Daniel Kash as Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss
  • Javier Botet as Mama Laura Guiteras and Melina Matthews as Mama (voice) Hannah Cheesman as Beautiful Mama / Edith Brennan
  • Laura Guiteras and Melina Matthews as Mama (voice)
  • Hannah Cheesman as Beautiful Mama / Edith Brennan
  • Jane Moffat as Jean Podolski
  • David Fox as Burnsie
  • Julia Chantrey as Nina
  • Elva Mai Hoover as Secretary
  • Dominic Cuzzocrea as Ron
  • Diane Gordon as Louise


The film began production in Pinewood Toronto Studios on 3 October 2011. Production ended on 9 December 2011. Parts of the film were also shot in Quebec City, Quebec. Although the film was produced in Canada, it is set in Clifton Forge, Virginia. The film was initially scheduled for release in October 2012, but was later rescheduled for January to avoid competing with Paranormal Activity 4. Its success at that later date has, among with other dump months horror films, convinced studios to start opening horror movies year-round.


Critical reception

Mama received mixed reviews from critics. It holds a 63% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 166 reviews, with an average rating of 5.90/10. The website s critical consensus states: If you re into old school scares over cheap gore, you ll be able to get over Mama s confusing script and contrived plot devices. Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating mixed or average reviews .

Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, enjoyed the film, giving it three stars out of four and saying, 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. Owen Gleiberman, reviewing for Entertainment Weekly, gave the movie a B and said, 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 fire in her eyes; 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, knows how to stage a rip-off with frightening verve. It helps to have an actress on hand as soulful as Jessica Chastain…

IGN editor Scott Corulla rated the film 7.3 out of 10 and wrote, This is a fine first film for director Andrés Muschietti and, despite some missteps and disappointments, very well could be a harbinger of interesting things to come for the helmer. The Huffington Post wrote, With Del Toro s name up front, expect Mama to be the winter horror film of choice in 2013. The Philadelphia Inquirer called the film an effectively spooky ghost story , adding, Mama is full of arty tropes – sepia-toned flashbacks, flickering lights, menacing murmurings. The atmosphere is positively spectral. And it s easy to see why del Toro is a champion: Like his Pan s Labyrinth, there s a fairy-tale aspect (the film even begins with the title card Once upon a time… ), with children in jeopardy, a witchy monster, and edge-of-the-precipice confrontations. Canyon News wrote, The scares do indeed come a mile a minute and will unnerve even some of the toughest moviegoers. Mick LaSalle of the Houston Chronicle wrote, Director Andres Muschietti is cinematically literate – in one example he borrows a flashbulb effect from Hitchcock s Rear Window – and he has visual panache. Much of the movie is surprisingly beautiful.

Box office

In the United States, the film earned $28,402,310 on its opening weekend, debuting at #1 and playing at 2,647 theaters. As of 4 April 2013, it grossed $146,428,180 worldwide and is a commercial success. Additionally, Jessica Chastain, for the second time in her career, claimed the top two spots of the box-office with her starring roles in Mama and Zero Dark Thirty.


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Saturn Awards Best Horror Film Mama Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film Megan Charpentier Nominated
Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film Morgan McGarry Nominated
Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film Isabelle Nelisse Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Scared-As-Shit Performance Jessica Chastain Nominated
People s Choice Awards Favorite Horror Movie Mama Nominated
Golden Trailer Awards Best Horror Mama Won
Best Motion/Title Graphics Universal Pictures Nominated
Best Horror Poster Universal Pictures Nominated

In February 2013, it was reported that a sequel was in the works. In January 2016, Universal announced that duo Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch would rewrite and direct the sequel. Chastain would not return for the sequel. But no progress were reported for the sequel, as of 2021.

Year 2013
ReleaseDate 2013-01-18
RuntimeMins 100
RuntimeStr 1h 40min
Plot After a young couple take in their two nieces, they suspect that a supernatural spirit named Mama has latched onto their family.
Awards Awards, 11 wins & 19 nominations
Directors Andy Muschietti
Writers Andy Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti, Neil Cross
Stars Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier
Produced by J. Miles Dale, Guillermo del Toro, Ingrid Fernández de Castro, Cristina Lera Gracia, Barbara Muschietti
Music by Fernando Velázquez
Cinematography by Antonio Riestra
Film Editing by Michele Conroy
Casting By Eyde Belasco, Robin D. Cook
Production Design by Anastasia Masaro
Art Direction by Elis Lam
Set Decoration by Patricia Cuccia
Costume Design by Luis Sequeira
Makeup Department Krista Burbidge, Rhosael Ciandre, Linda Dowds, Susan Exton-Stranks, Mélanie Gerbeau-Lainé, Kim Grau, Antonio Gómez, Stephanie Ingram, David Martí, José M. Meneses, Jordi Morera, Raquel Munuera, Rubén Mármol, Pablo Perona, Montse Ribé, Marcos Sagasta, Rut Salgado, Amanda Terry, Lee Gren
Production Management Pierre-René Bonnette, Dennis Chapman, Mariano Liwski, Deborah Marks, Anna Mayolas, Vincent Routhier
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Jeff J.J. Authors, Sarah Campbell, Penny Charter, Kathryn Hughes, Bruno Mantoani, Alison McFarlane, Jorge Roger, Siluck Saysanasy, Greg Sigurdson
Art Department Arlene Altman, Andrew Bapst, Jerry Beaudrow, Mary Birkett, Greg Carson, Andrew Chang, Mike Chard, Craig Coppella, James Coppella, Kirk Coppella, Kevin Curtin, Rossana DeCampo, Goran Delic, Gilbert Demers, Scott Donais, Peter Dwyer, Cheryl Fisher, John Flynn, Rylan Foley, Ian Fraser, Pam Gibson, Sandy Glud, Scott Grala, Vincent Harper, Pete Harwood, John Hinz, Steve Iwan, Zachery Kelly, Jonathan Kovacs, Greg Langham, Ella Lanthier, Joe Libanio, Arlene Lott, Julie Lugosi, Aleksandra Marinkovich, Martin McMullen, Kari Measham, Andrew Misillbacher, Andrij Molodecky, Brendan Neely, Ian Nelmes, Mike Newton, Jimmy O Meara, Dan O Neill, Jak Oliver, Joacim Orton, Dan Pace, Daniel Pace, Joey Panko, Shawn Peckford, Fred Perne, Chris Peters, Jim Peters, Jamie Pounder, Nathan Priebe, Robin Renter, Vic Rigler, John Butch Rose, Maurice Roy, Lidia Sabaté, Damien Segee, Tracey Strikwerda-Valeriote, John Todd, Del Upshaw, Mireia Vila, Barbara Wallace, Walter Klassen, Sean Vizsy
Sound Department Marc Bech, Les Brock, Manuel Carrión, Greg Chapman, Juan Carlos Cid, Mattew Desborough, David Drage, Alfredo Díaz, Laura Díez Mora, Lionel Fernandez, Allan Fung, Jamie Gould, Gabriel Gutiérrez, Hubert Henle, Stephen Hughes, Zach Hunter, Doug Lunn, Boi Martínez, Colin McLellan, Marc Orts, Jaume Puig, Eric Putzer, David Sans, Iñaki Sánchez-Elvira, Oriol Tarragó, Kelly Wright, Roberto Alonso, Matt Dawson, Michael Jesmer, Sebastien Lacheray, Will McConnell, Josep Prieto, Brent Robichaud, Danial Shimiaei, Rob Sinko, David Tirolo
Special Effects by Warren Appleby, Shuba Dasgupta, Juan Carlos Dávila, Jaime Fortea, John MacGillivray, Fiona MacPherson, Cameron Patterson, Eloi Serra, Oriol Tarrida Homedes, Graham Chivers
Visual Effects by Keith Acheson, Rubén Algarra, Juan Alonso, Francisco Alvarez, Joan Amer, Alfredo Octavio Arango, Engin Arslan, Greg Astles, Mandy Au, Sarah Barber, Marcus Beiner, Barb Benoit, Dennis Berardi, Michelle Berardi, Raúl Bernabé, Cliff Bielawski, Cesc Biénzobas, Kristy Blackwell, Mike Borrett, Llorenç Borràs, Natalie Broomhall, Robin T. Brown, James Bunk, Ayo Burgess, Craig Calvert, Wilson Cameron, Dan Carnegie, Joseph Cheng Chen, Ovidiu Cinazan, Nick Colangelo, Dougie Cook, Gary Couto, Juan de Santiago, Chris De Souza, Jeremy Dineen, Mai-Ling Dydo, Peter Dydo, Jason Edwardh, JoseLuis Estefania, Natascha Evans, Rory Falloon, Elisa Mar Ferre, Michael Fessenden, Naomi Foakes, Pietro Gallo, Tie David Gambacurta, Wei Gao, Roberto García, Iñaki Gegúndez Vicente, Michael Goldfarb, Claudio Gonzalez, Jason Gougeon, Joaquín Gutiérrez, Trey Harrell, David Heras, Martin Hesselink, Jo Hughes, Matthew Lajoie, Meng Angel Li, Lorenzo Lovera, Silvia López Sanz, Chris MacLean, Vimal Reddy Mallireddy, Jonathan J. McCallum, Ken McCuen, Tracey McLean, Sarah McMurdo, Hao Meng, Raúl Monge, Natalia Montes, Benjamin Mossman, Eric Myles, Makarand Nazirkar, Yuhay-Ray Ng, Chris Nguyen, Ken Nielsen, Lara Osland, Anna Pacchioni, Diana Pazzano, Matthew Pellar, Óscar Perea Marcos, Connie Persichini, Jim Price, Carlos Puchol, Eduard Puertas, Matt Ralph, Michael Rice, Chris Ritvo, Linda Rose, Chris Ross, Sergio Rozas, Jorge Oliva Ruiz, Milan Schere, Matt Schofield, Kazumasa Shibata, James Soares, Ian Spriggs, Anja Stitic, Tamara Stone, Jim Su, Donna Wing Yan Tang, Edward Taylor IV, Javier Urrutia, David Vico López, Stephen Wagner, Charles Warlaw, Aaron Weintraub, Elizaveta Yankelovich, Olivia Yapp, Kyle Yoneda, Dave Young, Carles Zamorano, Celine Zoleta, Ruslan Borysov, Alex Branton, Andrew Kin Fun Chan, Oliver Hearsey, Ken McCuen, Kelly Noordermeer, Troy Robinson
Stunts Tom Farr, Derrick Franklin, Joel Harris, Álvaro Jiménez, Brayden Jones, Dana Jones, Jamie Jones, Kelly Jones, Jake Loube, Cotton Mather, Daryl Patchett, Alison Reid, Vincent Rother, Paul Rutledge, Steve Shack Shackleton, Mary Ann Stevens, Dave Van Zeyl, Len Wagner, Max White, Robert C. Shannon
Camera and Electrical Department Mongo Andrews, Miroslaw Baszak, Jocelyn Bourcier, Sean Bourdeau, Russel Bowie, Oriol Busquets, Tim A. Campbell, Michael Carella, Jeffrey Cassidy, Josu Cejuela, Rob Cochrane, Angelo Colavecchia, Fraser Collins, Carles Colom Sicilia, Ciaran Copelin, Kevin Craine, Mark Cyre, Gary Deneault, Sam Eldridge, Richard Emerson, Michael Galbraith, Alex Garlop, Fernando Gayesky, Glen Goodchild, John Hickey, Perry Hoffman, Johnathan Holmes, Jordi Joaní, Marek Krawczyk, George Kraychyk, Shaun Kuebeck, Hugnes Lavoie, François Leduc, Josep Llopart, Ari Magder, Xavi Montoliu, Xavi Morón, Alex Narváez, Anthony Nocera, Norman O Halloran, Jim Park, Manuel Pertinez, Michael Plant, Sylvia Pranaitis, Michael Purdon, Doug Reid, Bob Rodgers, Alex Rui, Susanna Sala, Àlex Sans, Sebastián Sarraute, Ronald Schlueter, Julia Seidman, Davidson Tate, Richard Teodorczyk, Paul Thompson, Toni Valls, Lucía Vasallo, Chris Warwick, Leslie Whitaker, Amanda Wojtaszek, Max Armstrong, Richard D. Leko
Casting Department Corinne Clark, Donna Dupere, Emerald Goldsmith, Amy Hubbard, Andrea Kenyon, Jen Rudin, Millie Tom, Justin Turner, Jonathan Oliveira, Mandie Vredegoor
Costume and Wardrobe Department Suzanne Aplin, Jenn Burton, Christina Cattle, Jay Du Boisson, Nathalie Gysel, Robyn Rosenberg, Tamiyo Tomihiro, Rashmi Varma, Olga Vilaseca, Debbie Williams, Ying Zhao, Nola Chaters, Silvana Sacco
Editorial Department Ferran Banchs, John Bardswich, Alberto Bernad, Chris Blacklock, Gary Brown, Marel Camarena, Stephane Cattan, Quique Cañadas, Bernie Clayton, David Cárceles, Tritia Espinoza, Ricardo Juan, Rui Martins, Ramón Martos Calvo, Aj McLauchlin, Nacho Melero, Manolo Millán, Eva Aparicio Nuevo, Jorge Ortiz Yus, Mar Fuentes Porto, Enric Sebastià, Mike Seeley, Laura Sánchez, Mark Thorp
Location Management Fermin Balado, James Blacker, Jared Burton, Ingrid Fielden, David Franklin, Alex Makrygiannis, Raymond Maranda, Vince Nyuli, Shaun Cengiz, Ian Pozzebon
Music Department Marc Blanes, János Bohus, The Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Jose Javier Delgado, Jaime Gutiérrez Domínguez, Krum Gyula, Mitchell Lewis, Ibolya Tóth, Fernando Velázquez, Johannes Vogel, Pablo Uroz
Script and Continuity Department Shane B. Scott
Transportation Department Rudy Baccuchi, Cathy Baycroft, James Beaudrow, Jeff Blake, Gary Canale, Michael Cardwell, Ben Cekuta, Dave Clements, Rob Davis, Sandor Dongo, Frank Fletcher, Gerald Gaudreau, Randy Hastings, Ricard Hidalgo, Ron Hines, Pat Hodgins, Dana Howes, Wayne Ireland, Bill Jackson, Jacques Lefebvre, Jack Logan, Brian Lytle, Dave Mead, Frederick Mercier, Xavi Montoliu, Joe S. Norris, Andre Ouellete, Philippe Perreault, Regina Popp, Stephan Pyke, Reg Reynolds, Peter Singh, Joe Vechiola, Steve Warren, Dean Witthun
Additional Crew Daniel Abril, Javier Aller, Brandon Balon, Derek Barnes, Desmond Barnes, Heenan Blaikie, Julia Carrasco, David Claria, Jane Conway, Shaun Coughlin, Nadia Day, Andrea Eisen, Mary Fraser, John Gaskin, Ian Gibson, Carolina Gracia, Jonah Greisman, Olivia Gudaniec, John Hanley, Marie-Claude Harnois, Violetta Hessing, Jennifer Hoffmeister, Sara Holmes, Daniel Horvat, Jean-Claude Huot, Joe Iacono, Daniel Lacasse, Vanesa Lera, Rose Lister, Victor López, Marta Mas, Julia Molins, James Morley, Andrew G. Munro, Matt Nelson, Sergi Palat, Michael Pivar, Cynthia Poulter, Emilio Prieto, Javi Puente, Yan Regis, Mathieu Robineau, Korina Rothery, Zohra Sebbar, Lisa Shamata, Sergey Shpakovsky, Meghan Smith, Jen Stivala, Shawn Storer, Laura Thorne, Cristina Tort, Karla Trujillo Villon, Mark Weinberg, Russell Ackerman, Christina Buchli, Vanessa Burns, Ken Dhaliwal, Amy Gunzenhauser, Nikhil Jassawalla, Guillermo Martel, Steven M. Morales, Joe Russo, Javier Soto
Thanks Russell Ackerman, David Alcalde, Silvia Anoro, Sebas Antico, Agustin Berruezo, Irma Borrell, Benito Burgos, Javier Cabrero, Ricardo Carrasco, Pancho Chamorro, Lorenza Del Toro, Pablo Farina, Ricardo Fernández-Deu, Julia Fontana, Ángeles Formentín, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Mercedes Gamero, Ruben Garcia, Jaume García, Ricardo García, Benjamin L. Gordon, Adrián Guerra, Pablo Gómez-Castro, Marc Helwig, José Luis Hervías, Susana Jiménez, Peter La Terriere, Luci Lenox, Laura Lepre, Louis Leterrier, David Linde, Marc López, Pablo Miras, Michelle Muschietti, Miguel Muschietti, Susana Pastor, Rosa María Pellicer, Anna Quintana, Ángel Sala, Gary Ungar, Iván Valero, Mireia Vila, Chet Zar
Genres Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Companies De Milo, Toma 78
Countries Canada, Spain, Mexico
Languages English
ContentRating PG-13
ImDbRating 6.2
ImDbRatingVotes 180269
MetacriticRating 57
Keywords mother daughter relationship,supernatural horror,haunted house,cabin in the woods,ghost