Mama starts with a man kidnapping his two young daughters and frantically driving into the snow, crashing his car and taking shelter in an abandoned cabin.
The man's brother, Luke, never gives up searching and five years later the little girls are found, still living in the cabin (minus Dad) and pretty much completely feral.
Luke wins custody of the girls over their aunt Cunty McSourface (starring in her own pointless subplot) and he moves with the girls and his girlfriend, Fake Shawnee Smith, (who we'll get to in a minute) into a house owned by the psychiatric hospital.
The girls, the younger one especially, are preoccupied with their mother figure, a spooky entity named Mama, who helped them survive in the woods. Mama doesn't like her girls being taken away and she is pissed. She incapacitates Luke (probably the only likeable character other than the girls's psychiatrist; I'd say the girls were likeable but they were kind of one dimensional) and while he's in the hospital the girls are stuck living with Fake Shawnee Smith, who is just a delight.
In this case, "delight" means I hate her.
She's a walking talking stereotype; she has dyed black hair, wears too much eye makeup, has tattoos, plays bass in a band and is totally not into this whole raising kids deal. I spent the whole movie wishing Mama would just kill her already so the story could get back to Luke.
But it turns out he's not the protagonist like the first twenty minutes of the movie would have you believe. This is Fake Shawnee Smith's story. Shit.
It's no secret that I'm oversensitive to horror involving babies and young children. I cried all the way through Inside, The Dream Child is one of my least favorite of the Elm Street series and I won't even try to watch It's Alive or The Omen or Obligatory Third Example. (Pet Sematery? Yeah, let's go with Pet Sematery.) I know I'll have an irrationally hard time with them so I just don't bother.
So I knew going in that Mama might be a difficult watch for me (but I couldn't pass it up; the previews were too enticing) and I was prepared for a lot of what was to come.
But it turns out Mama has a backstory reminiscent of La Llorona and I was not prepared for that at all. There's a nightmare sequence in the movie that reduced me to tears and the ending left me feeling empty and sad.
That being said, the ghost was well CGId (very creepy) and most of the movie was visually striking. It was mostly well acted (the kids did a great job) and the overuse of jump scares didn't bother me nearly as much as the idiot teenagers who seemed to think the whole audience gave a shit what they think.
And, also, P.S., moths. So many moths. Probably fine if you don't have a problem with them but I happen to be terrified of moths.
End of line.