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Characters / Mama

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The characters from the 2013 horror film Mama

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     Edith / Mama 
Played By: Javier Botet
  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Justified due being a ghost, and one that died from a long fall.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Implied at the end of the film, where she's finally put to rest by Lily's love for her.
  • Anti-Villain: You could argue she is one, but even then, she truly wants more than to take care of the girls.
  • The Atoner: It's shown Edith's reasoning for protecting the girls is to atone for killing her baby when she was alive.
  • Ax-Crazy: As a spirit she's psychotically violent to anyone who might get between her and her girls in any way. Lily and Victoria are about the only living humans who are in any way safe around her and whom she won't intentionally harm, and even then, Mama does try to essentially kill the girls at the end by reenacting her death with them so they'll be Together in Death and she won't lose them to someone else. The film implies her already-disturbed mental state when she was alive was further exacerbated in death due to her unburied corpse's exposure to the elements warping and contorting her spirit.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: When she first meets the two girls, she performs a Villainous Rescue, killing their father before he can try killing them. There's also her possessing and killing Jean, who had a toxic obsession with getting custody of the girls from Lucas to spite the latter and could've succeeded had she lived.
  • Character Development: "Mad Edith Brennan" aka Mama goes from being a psychotically jealous, obsessive ghost with barely more personality than an animal to being able to let Victoria go when the latter chooses to stay with Annabel. Yes, even the ghost has character development.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: Mama, as much of her anatomy is unnaturally long and gnarled-looking.
  • Dark Is Evil: Zig-Zagged. Though psychotic and wrathful, Edith is an Anti-Villain who's far from irredeemable.
  • Daylight Horror: Many of Mama's appearances happen in broad daylight.
  • Deadly Hug: Crushing people in her arms in Mama's preferred killing method.
  • Flight, Strength, Heart: Mama's powers include flying, mangling people with her arms and creating cherries.
  • Funny Background Event: More like Creepy Background Event. There are times when Annabel goes around the house doing chores, and the girls are seen playing with Mama and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
  • Ghostly Glide: She frighteningly does this often when she's not crawling along the ground.
  • Ghostly Goals: She wants nothing more than to care for and protect her children. It seems like the answer to helping her move on is to reunite her with her dead child, but she is she's utterly crushed because it's only evidence of how she couldn't protect her baby. When Lily calls for her and Mama "rescues" her from Annabel and Lucas, that's what finally sets her free.
  • Ghostly Wail: Though she's capable of humming a lullaby, she usually produces a range of inhuman and disturbing vocalizations, including insectoid-sounding chirps, raspy breaths, a demonic wail and some truly unnerving zombie-like moans.
  • Grand Theft Me: What Edith does to Jean in order to take the kids back to the cabin. It proved fatal for Jean.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mama/Edith isn't just protective of her children, she's also viciously jealous and does not want anyone intruding in her little family's happiness. Though she resents Victoria's growing attachment to Annabel, she eventually concedes to leave Victoria in Annabel's care for good.
  • History Repeats: Edith's child was taken from her. When she came to take it back, she was hounded and chased back to a cliff, where she tried to jump into the river to escape but a branch halfway down ended up killing both of them. Mama takes her new children to the cliff as well in the climax; after she takes Lily back, they both jump down and hit the exact same branch, exploding into moths and butterflies.
  • Jump Scare: Mama constantly makes very sudden arrivals to the viewer; the girls are also fond of doing this, moving superhumanly quickly or taking advantage of flickering lights to get from one area to the next.
  • Karma Houdini: She ends up living in eternal bliss with Lily, despite the malevolent acts she committed on numerous individuals in her undead state including people whom she barely even knew at the time. Downplayed if not completely averted, since she's crushed by her original baby's death at the film's end, and is forced to permanently part with one of her adopted daughters by leaving her in the care of Lucas and Annabel, which is partly due to them giving the girl things that Edith never can.
  • Knight Templar Parent: She genuinely wants to take care of her children, but she's unable to tolerate even the idea of someone else taking care of them and will kill to get them back.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Before her death, Edith murdered a nun and forcibly kidnapped her baby seeking to get back her child after it was taken from her, which led to her jumping with her child to both their deaths when pursued to a cliff by a mob. As a violent spirit, she's tragically enough primarily driven by being a Knight Templar Parent to the two girls she adopted as her own a century later, coupled with an extreme dose of jealousy.
  • Love Redeems: Zig-Zagged. She at first begins reverting to a human form when reunited with her original baby's remains, but upon hearing Lily crying out to her, she rejects her original child's bones and reverts to her aggressive, twisted form. Ultimately, Victoria in particular acts as a Morality Chain convincing Mama not to seriously hurt Annabel and Lucas, and in response to Victoria's wishes and Annabel's Mama Bear display at the climax, Mama concedes to letting Victoria stay with Anna and Luke.
  • Mama Bear: She's fiercely devoted and protective of her children, and will kill and assault anyone that gets between them and her; those who even threaten to do them harm meet the most grisly ends possible. Even when she's bound by her word not to kill Annabel, she still shields the girls with her own body against the perceived threat. Though sometimes it looks a lot like chasing/attacking "her" children. This is a dark example of the trope, however, as Mama's Mama Bear tendencies are what lead to the deaths of Lily and her original baby.
  • Marionette Motion: Mama's movement is erratic and unnatural.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: She was mentally ill in life and/or might've suffered from Down's syndrome based on her appearance and actions. As a ghost that's been twisted out of its soul's natural shape, this makes her Ax-Crazy.
  • Named by the Adaptation: It's revealed in the film that her name in life was Edith Brennan.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Initially Dreyfuss believes that "Mama" was just an Imaginary Friend that Victoria and Lily created to cope with their situation. It turns out that she's not quite so imaginary...
  • One to Million to One: When Mama hits the same tree branch that killed her at the end of the movie, she splits into hundreds of moths.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: She takes most of her design from the Mexican Urban Legends of La Llorona note  with a helping of Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl (though too different from the traditional onryo to be considered one.)
  • Parental Substitute: She's one for Lily and Victoria, having latched onto and cared for the girls as much as a spirit like her can, since first encountering them at the isolated cabin in the woods.
  • Pet the Dog: Sparing Annabel's life because she promised Victoria she wouldn't hurt Annabel.
  • Redemption Rejection: Played With. When Annabel brings Mama her original baby's bones and she's finally confronted with its death, her spirit reverts to a human form and it looks like she'll finally move on. However, when Lily calling out to her catches Edith's attention, she reverts to her twisted form and throws away the original baby's bones in favor of keeping Lily and Victoria. It's suggested that in her distorted mental state, Mama/Edith might not even know that Lily and her original baby are separate entities.
  • Suddenly Voiced: When Lily calls out to her in the end, Mama actually quietly speaks out in a normal voice.
  • Supernatural Floating Hair: One of Mama's defining features.
  • Thinking Up Portals: During the film, there's a mould-like black stain in the wall of the cabin where Mama and the girls resided. Another such stain develops in the back of the girls' closet (which Mama's manifestations often orient towards) at their new home, and additionally, Mama comes out of another stain in the house earlier in the film. Dr. Dreyfus believes the stains at either location are a gateway which Mama forms and uses to cross between the two locations freely.
  • Together in Death: Well, Together in Final Death; when she takes Lily with her while re-enacting her death.
  • Tragic Villain: The Backstory of Edith Brennan which created Mama is truly heartbreaking. In life, Edith was committed to an insane asylum (bear in mind, conditions in mental hospitals in the 19th century were questionable at best) and her baby taken from her due to her mental state, which drove her to extreme measures to get her child back, killing a nun in the process. Sadly, these actions caused a mob to chase her down, and attempting to avoid losing her child again, she jumped with her baby off a cliff into the water; but any chance of survival was cut off when they hit a branch on the way down, killing both her and the baby. Due to her corpse remaining unburied and exposed to the wilderness, Edith's spirit was condemned to become a malformed distortion of her former self (making her even more Ax-Crazy) who had to in some form repeat the events of her death until the wrong was righted. It's implied that she doesn't even know where her lost child is or that it's dead. When Edith comes across Victoria and Lily more than a century later and saves them from being killed by their father, she takes them in to fulfill her need to protect "her" children and be a mother. Even now, all she really wants is to be a good mother to her child/ren, but as much as she tries her best for them, there are some vital things like human interaction, social functioning and warmth that she simply can never give the girls, plus her spirit's distorted mental state makes her a viciously protective and jealous Knight Templar Parent. The latter unfortunately causes Victoria in particular more sadness than joy once the girls' uncle and Annabel take them in.
  • Undead Barefooter: She's barefoot, although that's probably one of the less uncanny/disturbing things about her ghostly form.
  • Vampiric Draining: One of Mama's powers is the ability to suck the Life Energy out of people.
  • Villainous Rescue: When Jeffrey is about to shoot Victoria in the back of the head, Mama appears right at the last possible second and stops him.
  • The Voiceless: Even in flashbacks to when she was human Mama never speaks, just grunts and groans. She says one word in the entire movie, "Lily", and it's a pretty normal-sounding voice.
  • Worthy Opponent: Near the end, she seems to start regarding Annabel this way.
  • Yandere: She is a parental version rather than the usual romantic one. But with her Knight Templar Parent tendencies and obsessive, murderous jealousy of her two girls showing too much attention to others, she qualifies.

Main characters

Played By: Jessica Chastain

  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She starts the film as this and undergoes Character Development into a Mama Bear by the end.
  • Call-Back: At one point in the film, Annabel grabs the belt of Victoria's bathrobe and asks what's wrong, and Victoria pulls away from her. At the climax of the film Annabel, having been physically drained to the point that she can't even walk, grabs hold of the same belt of Victoria's robe so she won't go with Mama/Edith. This time, Victoria stays.
  • Character Development: She starts off distant, with barely any affection for the girls themselves, and only takes care of them for Lucas' sake. As she earns their trust, and they come around to her in turn, she starts to love them and care for them like a real parent.
  • Cool Aunt: As Luke's girlfriend, she can be considered a Cool Honorary Aunt (being a former guitarist with tattoos in regards to the "Cool") as well as a Parental Substitute.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: She walks around the house barefoot quite a bit.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Played with. When Annabel wears them to listen to the interview recordings, it would seem that either she'd get attacked or she'd be oblivious to the girls' plight when Edith comes for them. But she hears their screams well enough to come running for them when needed.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Initially, she's distant and aloof with the girls and feels she isn't equipped to deal with children, but she goes through with it anyway despite expressing her doubts to Lucas and Dreyfus (and she gives up her role in a rock band in the process). She gets extra points towards "Heart of Gold" for going through with caring for the girls by herself when Lucas is put in a coma. It's implied the clincher when uncertain if she can care for the girls on her own is Dreyfus warning her that Lucas will barely ever get to see them again if Jane gets custody, as Annabel knows how much the girls mean to Luke. As the film progresses, she grows closer to and more protective of the girls, evolving into a Mama Bear.
  • Mama Bear: She develops into this over the course of the film, and by the end, her protectiveness, determination and comfort towards the girls are very much those of a mother, rivaling and mirroring Mama/Edith in willpower.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Annabel has very few scenes where she's not showing cleavage.
  • No Peripheral Vision: She occasionally can't see anything not directly in front of her.
  • Official Couple: With Lucas.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: She seems to feel this towards Mama / Edith after discovering her origins. She silently sheds tears when reading up on Edith and Edith's baby.
  • Tomboy: Comes with being an Aloof Dark-Haired Girl and a former rock-band guitarist.

    Lucas "Luke" Desange 

  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Averted big time. In fact, Lucas shows more concern to his nieces than grief for what happened to Jeffrey.
  • Beard of Evil: Inverted: unlike the clean-shaven Jeffrey who committed at least two murders and attempted Offing the Offspring, Lucas has a thick beard.
  • Cool Uncle: Extra Cool Uncle, actually. There's his Determinator display while his nieces were missing. Even in the film's prologue, he almost flips when he first fears something bad has happened to his nieces, more like a father would than an uncle.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Lucas gets taken out of the action pretty early, if you're wondering why Annabel's actress has top billing. Even when he wakes up and attempts to get back into the action, he's taken out again for the climax.
  • Determinator: Five years of searching for his disappeared brother and nieces (the latter in particular), and he never stopped looking nor toned his efforts down, even keeping detailed geography maps on his bedroom wall and pretty much emptying his bank account with everything he put into the search over the years. It paid off.
  • Nephewism: He successfully gets custody of Lily and Victoria when they're found, thanks to Dr. Dreyfuss.
  • Official Couple: With Annabel.
  • Papa Wolf: It looks like he was already this towards his nieces even before Jeffrey's death and the girls' recovery, if his reaction to the police cordoning Jeffrey's house is any indication. He never gives up on finding the girls even as years pass, and once they're found, he fights tooth and nail to get custody of them.
  • Parental Substitute: He loves his two nieces very much, more like a father would. When they're found, he becomes their emotional and then legal substitute for their father. It's lampshaded when he gives Victoria glasses and she believes upon seeing his face clearly that he's her father returned.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: To his brother Jeffrey, played by the same actor. It's pretty much universally assumed despite a lack of official confirmation that they're identical twins.

     Victoria Desange 
Played By: Megan Charlentier

  • Big Sister Instinct: She notably takes on a protective role to Lily, who often seeks safety in her arms, even in infancy; which lingers as feral children and afterwards.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Her vision is very poor without glasses: at the beginning of the movie she isn't even able to recognize her father being murdered because Mama's figure is so blurry.
    • Victoria's first step toward recovering from her feral state happens when she receives a new pair. Edith later destroys them in a fit of jealousy, as to her they represent the moment she started to lose her precious daughter.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Dr. Dreyfus points out that Victoria's age when she was lost will make it easier for her to recover. At the end, she's the one that's able to resist Edith's influence.
  • Children Are Innocent: She seems to know that there's something supernatural about Edith, but she's never learned that this is something she should be afraid of, so she isn't.
  • Creepy Child: Victoria and Lily when they're found are not only near-feral, but incredibly creepy and prone to jump-scares. Victoria eventually gets better.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Or rather Defrosting Ice Princess. Despite making a quick basic recovery from child ferality after recognizing her uncle as her father, she remains rather aloof for most of the film. She does this because she's terrified of Mama lashing out at Annabel or anyone else in jealousy if the girls show signs of fondness for them. Despite her better judgment, she still ends up bonding with Anna, and it's implied that knowing this has put Anna in danger of Mama's wrath causes Victoria a lot of emotional stress.
  • Morality Chain: She in particular is this to Mama.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Even before Lucas and then Annabel become the girls' Parental Substitutes, Lucas in the prologue scene reacts to his nieces' disappearance like a father would.
  • Replacement Goldfish: She and her sister are substitutes to Mama for her original baby, which died along with her and which she was separated from upon death. Interestingly for this trope, when the bones of mama's original baby are returned to her and her spirit finally has a chance to rest, she ends up rejecting her original child in favor of holding onto the two Replacements whom she looked after for five years.
  • Wild Child: At the start of the film, after spending five formative years in a cabin in the woods with nothing but Mama to take care of her and Lily. She recovers early on compared to Lily, since she was alreay three years old and had learned a lot of vocabulary, although she remains a Creepy Child for most of the film.

     Lily Desange 
Played By: Isabelle Nélisse

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Implied at the end of the film after she and Mama reenact the latter's death and disappear together.
  • Barefoot Loon: She goes barefoot throughout nearly all of the film. The camera draws attention to this when she and Victoria are first brought to Lucas and Annabel's residence, emphasizing that Lily is more resistant to progress away from her child ferality.
  • Children Are Innocent: Having been infant age when she and Victoria met Mama, Lily is unable to see Edith as anything other than her real mother, and prefers her to any kind of human contact]].
  • Color Motif: Purple. Lily wears a purple blanket when they arrive at the house at the beginning of the movie. Most of the children's drawings also depict her in purple. This is something she has in common with Mama/Edith's real baby, which ties into her fate at the film's end.
  • Creepy Child: She's feral alongside Victoria when found, and also is adept at jump-scares and all round being unnerving. Although she eventually shows signs of progress later in the film, ultimately she doesn't get better.
  • Death of a Child: Mama succeeds in taking Lily with her when enacting the former's death, and although there's No Body Left Behind, it's made clear at the film's end that Lily is in all the non-spiritual ways dead. It devastates Annabel, Lucas and Victoria.
  • Hates Being Touched: At least, by anyone other than her sister or Mama. She protests vocally or verbally to being physically handled or in any way directly approached by Annabel until later in the film.
  • Hulk Speak: She rarely speaks, but when she does it's like this, her language highly broken.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Even before Lucas and then Annabel become the girls' Parental Substitutes, Lucas in the prologue scene reacts to his nieces' disappearance like a father would.
  • Marionette Motion: Implied to be due to learning how to move around mainly from Mama, who also has this.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • It's easy to miss, but Lily has the same name as Edith's dead baby, and ends up sharing her fate.
    • The name Lily has special connotations: lilies are associated with death and the restoration of innocence upon death.
  • No Body Left Behind: When she "dies" and passes on with Mama, Mama's cocoon-like shroud encasing them both bursts apart and releases a swarm of butterflies, one of which is implied to be Lily.
  • Replacement Goldfish: She and her sister are substitutes to Mama for her original baby, which died along with her and which she was separated from upon death. Interestingly for this trope, when the bones of mama's original baby are returned to her and her spirit finally has a chance to rest, she ends up rejecting her original child in favor of holding onto the two Replacements whom she looked after for five years.
  • Spanner in the Works: Had Lily not cried out to Mama, there might've been Earn Your Happy Ending instead of the Bittersweet Ending.
  • Together in Death: Her and Mama.
  • Wild Child: As a result of spending five of her formative years in a cabin in the woods with nothing but Mama to take care of her and Victoria. Having been younger and had much less pre-woods cognitive development than her sister, Lily has a notably harder time of recovering than Victoria and is initially resistant to progress.

     Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss 
Played By: Daniel Kash

  • Jerkass Ball: He handles it when he asks Victoria about Mama and gets her upset, sharply yelling and continuing to press despit her immediate distress. This angers Mama, which ultimately gets him killed.
  • Too Dumb to Live: He goes to Mama’s cabin, alone, in the middle of the night, after pudding her off by upsetting Victoria, to take pictures. As you could guess, he gets killed.


    Jeffrey Desange 

  • Asshole Victim: Edith kills him before he can kill his daughters and himself, and this is after he killed his wife and business partner.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Since his death is shot from Victoria’s POV, and she had recently lost her glasses leaving her unable to see, we don’t get to clearly see how Edith dispatches him, though it seems to involve breaking most of his bones.
  • Offing the Offspring: He tried to do this to his daughters. Edith wasn’t having any of it.
  • Pater Familicide: He kills the girls' mother, but when he attempts to kill his daughters as well, Edith cuts him short.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite murdering his business partners, his wife, and attempting to do the same to his daughters, Jeff's ghost wakes his brother up to urge him to save the girls.
  • Sanity Slippage: He had a total breakdown after a market crash which it is implied directly affected him, killing his business partners and then intending to kill his wife and daughters, and it's all but stated that he would've killed himself afterwards.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: With his brother Lucas (see his folder).

     Jean Podolski 
Played By: Jane Moffat

  • Asshole Victim: She's on the receiving end of Demonic Possession from Mama when she breaks into the Desanges' residence looking to get photos of the girls' bruises. Though she was likely genuinely concerned for her nieces' welfare, she was moreso obsessed throughout the film with taking the girls away from Lucas (who did much more than her to find the girls when they were missing) out of Irrational Hatred towards him.
  • Demonic Possession: See Grand Theft Me.
  • Evil Aunt: She's the sister of Lily and Victoria's original mother. She genuinely cares about her nieces, but she cares more about hurting Lucas than about actually stopping to think what's best for them.
  • Grand Theft Me: What Edith does to Jean in order to take the kids back to the cabin. It proved fatal when Edith left.
  • Irrational Hatred: She has one for Lucas because of Jeffrey murdering her sister, which pours off of her in waves every time she interacts with him, and her every act in the film has an undercurrent of motivation to hurt and spite him. It might have something to do with Luke and Jeffrey having identical faces.
  • Jerkass: She has a barely-disguised Irrational Hatred for Luke all because of his brother's actions, she's dismissive of the lengths he went to to find the girls (which are more than she did while they were missing), and even if she does care for them, consideration of her nieces' wants and welfare are ultimately secondary to her burning want to hurt Lucas however she can, preferably by taking the girls away from him; all of which go a rather long way to outweigh and subsume her sympathetic qualities.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: A variant. She's Lucas' sister-in-law, and holds an all-consuming Irrational Hatred towards him because of his brother murdering her sister. It's heavily implied that if she got custody of the girls, she would've done everything in her power to ensure Lucas barely if ever got to see them again, all to spite him.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Jean, as she's implicitly a very classist individual who thinks that her greater economic standing makes her a more qualified parent, even though she did nothing to recover the girls.
  • Revenge Before Reason: She cares more about spiting Luke than what's really best for her nieces or what they might want.

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