Girls in Horror Movies: Mama

This week, I’ll be talking about the 2013 horror movie Mama. The executive producer of this movie was Guillermo del Toro, who famously wrote and directed Pan’s Labyrinth. Mama focuses on two sisters, Victoria and Lilly, and their life after their father, Jeffrey, shot their mother, and fled with the girls to a house in the woods. While there, a spirit (we later learn this spirit is called Mama) protects Victoria from her father who aims to kill the girls too, and kills him.

The movie then moves on five years and focuses on the life of Jeffrey’s identical twin brother Lucas, and how Jeffrey, Victoria and Lilly still have not been found. Lucas has never stopped searching and finds the girls in a feral state still living in the house in the woods. They keep speaking of a protector whom they call ‘Mama’. The girls move in with Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel, and are also continually observed by Dr Gerald Dreyfuss. While living with Lucas and Annabel, the girls are still protected by Mama who reacts negatively towards Annabel as Annabel is now taking the mother role and therefore effectively replacing Mama. Throughout the rest of the movie, Victoria bonds more and more with Annabel, whereas Lilly does not. The movie eventually ends with Lilly choosing to go with Mama, and Victoria choosing to pursue a “normal” life.

In this post I will be focusing on exploring the character of Victoria. As the older sister, Victoria is very protective of Lilly. It’s interesting that the movie is called ‘Mama’ and so, on the face of it, we would assume this refers to the spirit whom the girls literally call Mama. However, the spirit is not the only mother in the movie – Victoria takes a mother-like role towards Lilly, and Annabel also becomes maternal and protective towards both of the girls.

Furthermore, Victoria is an interesting character in terms of how, because she is older than Lilly when she enters the house in the woods, she integrates back into society more successfully than her younger sister. Lilly continues to sleep under the bed and only eats cherries, just like the girls did when they lived at the house in the woods. Victoria generally makes more of a go with her new chance at a “normal” life, yet Lilly remains determined to remain in her life with Mama. There are many scenes in the movie where Mama appears and wishes to play with the girls. Lilly obediently follows without hesitation, and yet Victoria does not. This foreshadows the ending, and shows the strength of Victoria as she openly defies Mama despite being scared of her.

Despite the horrific ordeal she has been through, Victoria is determinedly strong. This movie is another great example of a horror that explores the grit and potential for power in girls.

-Lexi Burrows
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.


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