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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Review: Ma

Director: Tate Taylor
Screenplay: Scotty Landes
Year: 2019

Synopsis: A lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and invites them to party in her house. While the teens continue to do parties at her house, stuff starts to happen that makes them suspicious about the behavior of their host.

“Ma” caught my attention since it started being promoted around the month of February of 2019. It wasn’t what was presented in the trailers what got my attention, but the technical aspects of the film. “Ma” is a product from Blumhouse Productions, which is the reunion of director Tate Taylor with actress Octavia Spencer since they worked together in “The Help” Let’s remember that “The Help” is the movie when Spences won the Academy Awards and Golden Globe for best actress in a supporting role and the movie was nominated for the Academy Awards as the best picture of the year.

Seeing an actress and a director with those accomplishments involved in a horror movie when their success came from a genre very different from this is uncommon. It is also uncommon to see a black protagonist or antagonist in a horror movie, besides the advances made by Jordan Peele in “Get Out’ and “Us”, and that its character is explored so deeply. Even so, “Ma” breaks the mold for traditional horror movies and brings a movie that falls a little short from innovating in this genre.

Sue Ann, interpreted by Spencer, seems to be entering a mid-life crisis when she suddenly decides to start hanging around with a group of teenagers. After a few meetups, her behavior becomes obsessive and we start to discover the reasons why she wants to spend time with them. Spencer does a terrific job as Sue Ann or Ma, a nickname that one of the teens gives her, and reminds us why she won that Academy Awards trophy. The rest of the cast do a great job, bus Spenser is, without any doubt, the start of this movie. So much so that I was a lot more interested in her character and her motives than any other character.

The screenplay bets heavily in the development of the character of Ma, while the protagonist Maggie, interpreted by Diana Silvers (“Glass”) serves as a media for discovering more about her. The same thing happens with the rest of the cast, and when they all do a great job, I was not interested in them and they feel like excuses to explore Ma’s character and justify her motives and actions. Part of this problem is because of the magnificent work of Spences, the rest for some script flaws. Besides not managing to interest me in the rest of the characters, many situations feel forced. The motive while Ma decides to spend time with them leaves you asking yourself how likely is it that everything sets up the way it does.

“Ma” is one of those horror movies that keeps you at the edge of your seat at all times. Much of the credit in achieving so much tension is for the talent of Octavia Spencer, that makes hers the Ma character and makes you forget that it is merely a character. Although I did not like some decisions of the script, the story is solid, entertaining and have many memorable moments. A wild ride where the psychological suspense is crafted so well that makes the viewer not want to blink.

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