‘Ma’ // Film Review: Octavia Spencer Couldn’t Save This Thriller


Cast: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Corey Fogelmanis, Luke Evans

Director: Tate Taylor

Writer: Scotty Landes

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Studio: Universal Pictures

Blumhouse Productions tends to have a balance of movies that either producing solid horror movies (Get Out, Halloween, Happy Death Day) or awful horror movies (The Purge franchise, Ouija, Truth or Dare). But at least it’s able to bring some form of originality to the genre. It was hard to tell if Ma was going to be that from its basic premise that might be forgiven it was actually well worth the time.

What’s the Story: Maggie (Diana Silvers) and her mother Erica (Juliette Lewis) moved to this small town that she grew up in and she started being a part of this group of friends. While trying to buy alcohol, they come across a lonely woman named Sue Ann “Ma” (Octavia Spencer) and allows them to have parties in her basement. But as her obsession tends to grow on them, shady secrets from her past latches on.

Octavia Spencer in Ma (2019)

I can tell from Octavia Spencer’s performance as “Ma” that she’s having a ton of fun with the character. At first, it seemed weird for her to star in a horror movie that’s played out like this, but there’s a sense of empathy for this creepy character, for better or worse. So, besides her, there isn’t much else about Ma that was fun since I thought it was pretty bad.

The script by Scotty Landes is as predictable as it can get, and it could’ve been a lot better. Because after the teens don’t want to hang out with her anymore, it’s like something snapped. But “Ma” was pretty much already a creep in the first place when he’s looking them up on Facebook.

Maybe it’s just because of Tate Taylor’s poor direction that didn’t keep this interesting. He’s done a great job with The Help, which helped Spencer get an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but I hated his last movie The Girl on the Train. Here, there wasn’t a sense that he was capable of handling horror in a way that’s meant to be unnerving. Other than what, was I the only one that felt like there was no real tension in here? Because there wasn’t a single moment that felt If the trailer wasn’t keen enough to spoiler itself, along with one of the posters, maybe the suspense would help.

Juliette Lewis, Octavia Spencer, and Diana Silvers in Ma (2019)

Whenever these kinds of horror movies come out, I’m just wishing for them to be different and offer something clever in the mix, and it falls under characters being stupid and not exactly caring about what happens to them. As terrible as something like The Boy Next Door? Not so just from the first viewing.

All in all, Ma wasn’t as entertained as I thought in my mind, which made this disappointing. It provides great performance from Spencer, but everything was straight-up silly in a bad way. Some might have fun with that, but for someone that wants brains with its psycho stalker flicks, this needed them, desperately.

If you want to watch a movie that’s similar to this but better from Blumhouse, do yourself a favor and rent The Gift with Joel Edgerton and Jason Bateman. At least the payoff in that is worth it. I don’t waste your time on Ma.

Grade: D+

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