Ma (2019)

ma poster 2019 movie octavia spencer
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Octavia Spencer

Has elements that work but script has no urgency and drifts

Movie Info

Movie Name: Ma

Studio: Blumhouse Productions

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): May 31, 2019

MPAA Rating: R

ma strip gun octavia spencer

When a random woman invites you to her rural home to drink, pulls a gun, and orders a friend to strip…pretty much says “let’s do this again next week!”

Maggie Thompson (Diana Silvers) has moved back to the hometown of her mother Erica (Juliette Lewis) and is trying to fit in.  When she gets in with the “in” crowd, Maggie thinks everything might work out…but then they meet Sue Ann Ellington aka “Ma” (Octavia Spencer).  Ma seems perfect.  She has provided alcohol and a safe place to party, but everyone starts to notice that something seems off about Ma.  Now, Ma’s plans are being revealed and the safe place she provides could become a death trap.

Directed by Tate Taylor, Ma is a psychological-horror revenge thriller.  The movie was met with mixed reviews but a strong box office return.

Though it looked rather cheesy, the movie was one of those movies I seek out.  It is the typical revenge story that tells too much in the trailer, but solid acting almost does save the film.

ma 2019 kung fu fighting octavia spencer

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!

I’ll give the movie this, it tries to be different.  The plot goes all over the place and deals with a lot of issues.  You could argue it is more “life” oriented with characters having more than one problem and the characters problems not all being resolved by the end of the film.  Unfortunately, it strays so much with revenge plots, Munchausen system by proxy, and parental resentment.  The urgency of the situation seems to be lacking and Sue Ann is the sloppiest plotter of a big grift…it seems like just a few looks would make her plans fall through (and you can’t argue that she “broke”…she plotted the whole thing).

Octavia Spencer makes the movie watchable.  I enjoy her as an actor and her portrayal of Ma is over-the-top camp.  She’s backed up by a rather strong cast including Juliette Lewis and Diana Silvers.  I like Luke Evans dangerous Ben Hawkins (though I would have liked him to not go out like a chump).  Missi Pyle, and Allison Janney are criminally underused.

ma kids picture octavia spencer

Normally this type of shot would be a spoiler…but it is in the trailer

The movie is rather low-budgeted, but it also doesn’t need to be a big budget movie.  It is actually kind of refreshing to see movies that don’t rely on money and big effects.  The movie (like the story) doesn’t seem to have the visual urgency that it could…the horror really needs suspense to build upon, and it isn’t always shot in a way that takes advantage of that.

Ma is a problematic movie in that it could have really done a great job building upon a sympathetic “villain”.  The character does come off as pretty evil however in how she seeks her revenge and how she handles her own daughter.  These problems could have easily have been tweaked with some of the scripting.  The movie still has some fun moments and fun campy elements…Ma will take care of you!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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