After seeing the trailer for horror movie, Ma several months ago, I was excited to see Octavia Spencer step out of her usual protagonist role and into the role of the villain. Ma, a horror/thriller directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, Get on Up, and The Girl on the Train), stars Spencer as Sue Ann aka “Ma”, a woman who suddenly snaps and wreaks havoc on a group of small-town teens and their families.
Ma opens with Maggie (Diana Silvers) and her mother, Erica (Juliette Lewis) returning to Erica’s hometown from San Diego, after Erica’s nasty divorce. Maggie, who’s obviously killing the plain-Jane look and attitude, with her mousy-hair, her 90s-style overalls, and her awkwardness, enrolls in a new school, while her mom lands a gig as a server at the local casino.
Maggie, quickly makes friends with a group of “popular” kids whose favorite pasttime is posting up at the local liquor store, attempting to get adults to buy them alcohol so that they can go drink down by the “rock pile”. After receiving ‘get-the-fuck-outta-my-face’ quite a few times from the liquor store patrons, the cool kids start to get discouraged that they just might not be getting their fireball and vodka. Then, Maggie leaps in to save the day. Sue Ann (Spencer) strolls up and Maggie convinces her to buy their spirits, and from there, Maggie and her new drinking buddies, form a special friendship with Sue Ann.
Sue Ann invites the friends to her house and down to her basement to drink whatever they want until their little underage-drinking hearts are content and they, immediately, take her up on her offer.
Things start off great between the group of friends and Sue Ann, since she provides them with a buffet of alcohol and snacks at her gatherings. Once the word gets out around school, Ma’s place, rapidly, becomes super popular, and in no time, turns into the hangout spot of all hangout spots. Yep, a real Celebration Station.
Then, as quickly as everything comes together, it begins to fall apart after Sue Ann’s generosity takes a turn down down Weirdo Lane, once she overly expresses that she wants the kids to spend more and more time at her place. At one point, she shows up to their school and makes a scene. When they refuse her offer, she resorts to sending an explosion of apology text messages to each of them, while posting video messages on IG and Snapchat, on the intent of getting them to spend more time with her.
Sue Ann, hoarding many deep-seated secrets, is unable to take the rejection from her new teenage “friends” and quickly becomes undone, as she unleashes her violent, stalkerish, murderous side to anyone who tries to stand in her way.
In my opinion, Ma had the potential to be a great psychological thriller with a little bit of slasher-flick thrown in there, but it fell short. The blame doesn’t go on Octavia Spencer at all; she did an awesome job with the role as the extremely mentally-unstable Sue Ann aka Ma. The actors who portrayed the group of teen friends are where my main problem arises. Neither of those kids could act their way out of hell! But, especially Diana Silvers, who’s supposed to be the primary co-star, playing second to Ms. Spencer. Watching Silvers on-screen had me wanting to pull each and every strand of hair out of my head from the root. This young lady had absolutely ‘ZERO’ chemistry with her castmates. The cringe-level was turned up to the max every time the camera panned her way. It got to the point in which I hated to see her come into frame.
Also, the pacing of this movie was super slowwwwwwww. I’m not sure whether to put this one on the writer or the director. But, it was ridiculous how long it took them to get to the point of what was really going on. Ma, was on its way to turning into the ultimate snoozefest in the first 35-45 minutes, but I held on simply because I wanted to see where they were going to take it.
The writing and the direction of this film can also be brought into question for the holes, the many questions that were left unanswered, and the horror movie elements that weren’t fully-explored. Also, how are teenagers going to be getting drunk and partying 2 or 3 times a week in a small-ass town and the majority of the parents don’t know anything about it? They don’t notice that their 16 year-old is coming home shit-faced at least twice a week? C’mon. Let’s be more realistic.
Although, the young actors and the direction made this movie appear extremely amateurish, there were some good things that stood out. The chemistry between Juliette Lewis and Octavia Spencer was something special. When they entered that room, it was like someone had sprinkled magic dust in the air. Those two women played off each other perfectly, when they finally had a few chances to share screen time.
Another scene of the movie that I enjoyed was Sue Ann in the nail salon, while getting her mani/pedi, clicked on an IG video post from Haley, and allowed it to play loudly throughout the salon. One of the other salon customers, a little elderly lady, who was clearly annoyed, was not having it that day; and the heated exchange between those women was priceless.Overall, Ma didn't grab my attention like I'd expected it to after watching the trailer. It was cool to see Octavia Spencer step into a character that was totally different from anything that she'd played in the past; but, that… Click To Tweet
Ma, is cool for a Netflix and chill night, but it just wasn’t worth the silver screen.