Despite being nearly forgotten, Mama helped M3GAN in a big way. The 2013 horror movie didn’t meet with great reviews when it was released, but it did have a hand in helping to form M3GAN’s premise. Both movies deal with children that lose their parents and have to deal with it.
Both movies deal with surrogate parents with little to no clue what they’re doing. And most important, both films have non-human individuals with whom the children form an attachment. From there, the differences start to mount, and the depth of each movie grows.
The idea of an individual taking charge of traumatized children who have lost their parents is tough. But Mama did lay the kind of groundwork that made M3GAN a possibility. Not only does it show the difficulty of being a replacement parent, but it also shows how the difficulty of attachment issues.
Which movie is more disturbing is tough to say. Both of them deal with attachment on a level that is extremely unhealthy. But it can be stated that M3GAN is a little more terrifying since it stands closer to reality than Mama ever could. Comparing a ghost story to a story about AI is quite a bit different.
The loss in Mama is quite a bit different
Victoria and Lilly were taken to a remote cabin by their father, the uncle’s twin brother, who took them in later. After Mama killed their father, they were raised by the specter. They lost all hope of socializing with anyone else and became feral. On the flip side, Cady lost her parents in a tragic car accident with a snow plow.
In other words, the girls in Mama had no chance when it came to life. Had it not been for Mama, their father would have ended their lives. Because of Mama, they survived. But because of Mama, they also lost a life that they’d just barely started.
On the other hand, Cady was with her parents when the accident happened. She was also old enough to remember her parents. There’s also the fact that Cady had no siblings, which affects her level of attachment. The base of both stories has to do with loss, grief, and attachment.
Cady had more options than the girls in Mama
She had her aunt Gemma, but she also had her father’s parents if things didn’t turn out. Victoria and Lilly only had their uncle and his less-than-willing girlfriend. Other than that, they would have become wards of the state or relatives that were less than ideal.
Cady also wasn’t left alone in the wilderness. While her social skills dived, it had more to do with the loss she’d gone through than anything else. She didn’t live in the wild, and she didn’t require reconditioning that would allow her to be a functional human being again.
This is one reason why M3GAN is a little simpler than Mama. Dealing with one child and their issues is easier than dealing with two children. It’s especially difficult for Mama because Lilly knows no other attachments other than her sister and Mama.
M3GAN is a more persistent threat than Mama
Mama is a ghost story and has a definitive end. Reuniting the ghost with her deceased child was a possible ending. But she was content to take Lilly with her, as the little girl knew no other parent figure. M3GAN was programmed to protect Cady from everything and everyone. Unfortunately, as a being whose programming was set to continue learning and optimizing, M3GAN is even more terrifying.
As an android with the capability of downloading information and possibly downloading her own program, she can stick around for a while. Ghost stories once had the power to terrify people since there was no way to know if the vengeful spirit would disappear or stick around. But, in this day and age, AI is a lot more terrifying than the average ghost story.
Something that has a chance of becoming real tends to scare people a lot more than fantasy.
M3GAN has a chance for a sequel
Thanks to how the story was written, Mama was never set up for a sequel. But the way M3GAN was designed makes a sequel possible since she can easily download her consciousness and move about. While Mama made this movie possible by laying the groundwork, there was a lot of work to do to do M3GAN work.
Mama wasn’t a perfect movie, but it was better than many appear to think. Not only that, but it served as the inspiration for another movie that could become a great franchise with some luck.
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