Mama

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(2013) ★★★

Channel 4: PREMIERE Sunday 13 December, 11.5pm

Abandoned at a cabin in the woods for five years, wild-child orphans Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse are taken in by their uncle Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and his girlfriend (Jessica Chastain, not looking for any sympathy). But something from the cabin’s come with them. A ghost is an emotion bent out of shape, someone tells the doctor supervising their case.

The family dachshund is quicker to realise this than the experts. Walking and crawling in unison, humming in harmony, the girls are odd, of course. But the ghostly apparition is ghastly. Like the extravagantly praised Australian horror The Babadook, Andrés Muschietti’s debut feature is based on a short film.

Idris Elba’s Luther writer Neil Cross helped ensure this strikingly designed spook show has a pervasive air of unease and at least three jolting frights. It looks every inch a Guillermo del Toro production, which is its trump card. The soaring music goes a bit overboard, like Danny Elfman’s scores for Tim Burton.

Certificate: 15
Duration: 100min

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