Mama is the twisted creation of Muschietti and his writing & producing partner/sister, Barbara. The 2008 short film caught the attention of executive producer Guillermo del Toro, who immediately wanted to help Muschietti turn it into a feature-length film. Jessica Chastain was the first and only choice for the role of Annabel. After Chastain was officially cast, she took guitar lessons since her character was a bass player. For the title role, Javier Botet was cast due to possessing a genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome. The symptoms of the disease is what gives him his slender body and long fingers. For the make-up process, it took 4 hours every day to get Botet into make-up, and another 2 to remove it. The character of Mama required very little CGI. Botet was able to provide the disturbing and unsettling movements physically, since he possessed well-above-average range of motion in his joints. CGI was only applied to Mama's hair. Mama's appearance was inspired by a painting by Amedeo Modigliani, owned by the director. Production on the film began in October 2011, in Toronto, Ontario at the Pinewood Toronto Studios, and ended in December 2011. Parts of the film were also shot in Quebec City, Quebec. The film was initially scheduled for release in October 2012, but was later rescheduled for January 2013 to avoid competing with Paranormal Activity 4. Its success at that later date has, among with other dump months horror films, convinced studios to start opening horror movies year-round.
Andy Muschietti's Mama is a really cool ghost story with an extraordinary human and fairy-tale dimension. Muschietti's elegant pacing and gothic touches imbue the proceedings with a cool mystery. The film augments its abundant creepiness with an equally powerful poignancy. An entertaining and atmospheric love story. What Muschietti provides is the recognition that love exists beyond the most routine of circumstances. That a mother's love is as old as humanity's belief in the fantastic, and just as powerful. Although spooky and poignant, the film becomes weighed down by perhaps one too many cliqué tropes of the genre. But you may find that images from this movie clamber back into your memory weeks after you see it, and give your spine a chill. It's a horror fantasy flick, and a creepily good one, that also functions as an allegory for motherly love.