Oftentimes, it seems as if films "presented by" directors take that approach solely to draw attention to emerging talents and generate theater turnout, but this isn't exactly the case for the works touted by Guillermo Del Toro, where he often serves as an active producer. Between The Orphanage and now Andres and Barbara Muschietti's Mama, his fingerprints -- entrancing visuals, robust characters, and eerie atmosphere -- can clearly be spotted and noticeably elevate the creations under his wing, while allowing the respective directors' viewpoints to shine through. The inspiration for this particular fable of absent parentage and looming secrets is a three-minute short by the Muschiettis, featuring a disturbing, gangly-armed "mother" who stomps after two children in a dimly-lit home. Extended into a warped study of unlikely mothers and spectral guardians that look over feral daughters, this is a flawed, slight, yet consistently haunting parable that wouldn't appear out-of-place among its presenter's own work.
Mama goes down that well-worn path of dark and quixotic children's horror that Del Toro has brought somewhat to the mainstream, depicting a pair of sisters, Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nī