*Although I try my hardest not to do it, this review may contain spoilers
Written by Scotty Landis (his first feature film!), directed by actor/director/writer/produce Tate Taylor (he also directed Get on Up, The Girl on the Train (my review in the link) and The Help, to name a few) , and starring Octavia Spencer, Ma features Spencer as a lonely woman who befriends a bunch of partying teens she entertains in her basement. It’s all love, booze and good times, until Ma loses her shit.
Ma is billed as a horror/thriller movie. It’s absolutely a thriller and a mystery of sorts. It gets a little bit gory at times and there are some frightening moments that raise it to the level of a horror flick. Ma is what I call “smart” horror because the story doesn’t involve supernatural forces. Just a regular, functioning, mentally/emotionally damaged person who is a ticking time bomb, waiting to be set off.
My problem with Ma is I would have never gone back to Ma’s to “party” after the first night. Hell, I would have never gone to Ma’s in the first place. Not even at 17. But that’s the native New Yawka in me, I suppose. So, for me the credibility of the entire premise falls apart very early on. I had to transfer myself to a small town where there is no place for kids to hang out, get drunk and make out and/or fornicate, to get to a place where I could continue. And I don’t regret staying with it. I’m just saying, the signs of the crazy were there early on and these teens, being self absorbed and oblivious, as some teens sometimes are, see none of it until it is too late.
Once I was finally able to put myself aside and get into the shoes of these teens, I kept getting knocked out of those shoes by a chain of events that relied upon people doing stupid things that no reasonable, thinking person would do. So, things would be going along well with the story, I’m all invested, and then, Boom! Somebody does something stupid again and I’m in the theater cussing under my breath at the screen!!!
The mystery of Ma is pretty entertaining as you’ll sit and wait to find out exactly why Ma is so crazy. You get hints and glimmers of what happened and the reveal is pretty horrific if you (again) put yourself in Ma’s shoes. The reveal brings about a certain amount of empathy for Ma, and thinking about it in modern day bullying terms, you really kind of understand her humiliation and rage toward these people in this small town where she grew up and still sees and interacts with these imbeciles regularly.
What makes Ma interesting is how the plot is structured so that we get to see the history of the people who grew up in this small town and where all the players ended up, how their lives turned out, how their children are a reflection of them in one way or another, how little a-holes often grow up to become big a-holes and how traumatic events can cause long term damage on a bullied person.
The acting is solid. Octavia Spencer never disappoints. She just keeps getting better with her subtleties. She can raise an eyebrow, or open her mouth wide, or wink or squint, or change the angle of her smile and change the entire mood of a scene. And to see her dancing is hilarious and joyful. I love Allison Janney and the chemistry between her and Spencer (I’m sure I’ve advised this before, but if you have not watched them together on Mom, do so immediately!) is always delightful. Diana Silvers does a good job as Maggie. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her because she looks somewhat like a Julia Roberts/Anne Hathaway hybrid.
Ma earned 7 bloops out of 10. Although far from perfect, it’s a good movie that’s worth seeing. It is (mostly) well written, true to life, horror that doesn’t rely on jump scares. Pretty good for a horror movie with absolutely no supernatural element involved. Humans are the monsters. Go figure…
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing next…
I am waaaay behind in my movie viewing. I’ve been laid up the last few weeks after surviving my first (and hopefully my last) cardiac event. I had to brought back with the paddles and everything on Easter Sunday you all! It was a trip, to say the least. Physically, I’m fine. Emotionally, I’m just starting to feel like myself again, so let’s get this blog back up and running!
Next up is Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Aladdin. (I have some older reviews to throw up “Throwback Thursday” style and a couple of book reviews of books being made into movies coming as well.) Summer movie season is upon us, and here are a few films I’m looking forward to seeing/reviewing and their release dates:
6/14 MIB International
6/21 Child’s Play
7/5 Spiderman: Far from Home
7/5 Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
7/12 21 Bridges
7/19 The Lion King
7/26 Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
8/2 The New Mutants
8/9 The Kitchen
Then there is a load of questionable movies between 8/9 and 9/6 that don’t look very interesting at all, until we arrive at –
9/6 It: Chapter Two
9/13 The Goldfinch
9/12 Spies in Disguise
9/20 Rambo: Last Blood
9/20 Downton Abbey
Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is STILL a work in progress.)
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade Vice Roma
Mary Queen of Scots Widows The Favourite
Green Book Halloween Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody Beautiful Boy The Hate U Give
First Man Assassination Nation The Oath
A Star is Born The House with a Clock in Its Walls A Simple Favor
The Predator BlackkKlansman Support the Girls
Peppermint Christopher Robin Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders RBG Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage A Quiet Place Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time Lady Bird I, Tonya
The Florida Project Black Panther Molly’s Game
The Post Phantom Thread Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World Coco The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water Marshall The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul Thor: Ragnarok Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother! It Good Time
Atomic Blonde Dunkirk Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming The Big Sick Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me It Comes at Night The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman Everything, everything King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw Kong: Skull Island Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts A Cure for Wellness Get Out
Hidden Figures Fences Moonlight
Hell or High Water Loving La La Land
Lion Manchester by the Sea Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge Nocturnal Animals Captain Fantastic
Elle Jackie I Am Not Your Negro