As the summer season draws near, countless films are being released to cinemas and streaming services. With so many films coming out, it might be a bit challenging to decide what to watch. One film that was just recently released to cinemas is Ma, which comes from Blumhouse Productions and directed by Tate Taylor.
The film follows Maggie Thompson (Diana Silvers) as she moves in with her mother to Ohio after her parents split up. She quickly makes friends with Andy (Corey Fogelmanis), Chaz (Gianni Paolo), Hayley (McKaley Miller), and Darrell (Dante Brown) after they invite her out to drink. She agrees to go and the group tries to get an adult to buy them beer at a local store. They don’t have much luck until a stranger, Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer), gives in and decides to buy them drinks. She keeps tabs on them and soon even befriends them. However, this newfound friendship turns for the worst when Sue Ann, who wants to be referred to as Ma by the teens, becomes obsessive over them.
The overall premise of the film is one of the most unique premises I’ve ever seen. It has some aspects of a slasher film, given that it’s a group of teens being targeted by a killer, but it finds ways to incorporate other elements to distance itself from that subgenre. For one, the true horror doesn’t start until Sue Ann becomes obsessive over the group. Normally, this would be a bit of a letdown, but it added a feeling of suspense. If a horror film takes its time to create a scary ambiance, then it risks the audience losing interest in the film. However, it adds suspense in this film because the audience isn’t aware of what degree her obsession will go. This is one of the aspects of the film that carries it forward. The anticipation will definitely be worth the wait.
The majority of this film is carried by Spencer. I hadn’t particularly seen many of her films, but from what I have seen, I knew she was a phenomenal actress. There’s a scene in the film where her character is reuniting with Erica (Juliette Lewis), who was an old friend of hers and is also Maggie’s mother. Sue Ann, pretending to be friendly with Erica, is only there to make sure Maggie’s aware that her mother and Sue Ann are friends. Maggie, who knows by now what Ma is capable of, watches their reunion in horror. While Sue Ann is hugging Erica, she looks at Maggie in a serious and threatening manner. That automatically gave me the impression that things were just about to get serious.
Much of the horror, as mentioned above, doesn’t start until almost midway through the movie. The last 30 minutes of the film provides some of the most incredible yet uncomfortable scenes I’ve seen. One of them, which shows up in one of the trailers, shows Ma sowing Hayley’s mouth shut. It was something I knew was coming yet it was still hard to watch. Ma almost makes use of some unique tools to torture the group of teens, which definitely took me by surprise.
Unfortunately, Spencer’s performance and the elements of horror weren’t enough to save the film. For one, at no moment in the entire movie did I care for what happened to any of the teens. They just seem like the generic teenagers that one would find in any horror film. Maggie might be the only one I really found myself rooting for, but that wasn’t the case until the end of the film. It’s a bit repetitive to continue writing teenagers as if they’re only interested in partying and drinking. It’s become a popular staple within the horror genre, but this film could have been so much more if it broke this trope.
Additionally, this film also has a big reveal which gives the audience an explanation for why Ma is doing this to the kids. There are a few scenes that attempt to set this reveal up, including the scene where she first meets the teens, but the reveal still felt very predictable and unsatisfactory. This film would have benefited much more had it not given an explanation to why Ma became so obsessive. Films like The Strangers have cemented their legacy for not giving the audience any revelations as to why the killers target the main characters.
Overall, I did not really enjoy watching the film nor can I recommend it. There were a few things that I enjoyed, but they weren’t enough to fully capture my interest. The trailers gave the impression that it would provide insane horror moments but the film itself was a disappointment. If you’re looking for great horror films or just great summer films, I’d recommend Godzilla: King of Monsters or Starfish.
Ma is now playing in theaters.
Rating: 6/10 Incredible House Parties