Release Date: May 31st, 2019
Studio: Blumhouse Productions
Director: Tate Taylor
Release Format: Theatrical
Ma is the most conflicting film I’ve seen this year with its absurd story that kept me wanting to see how it ended because of how dumb it gets. I might be insane and need help like Ma.
Ma is about a middle-aged woman that buys alcohol for kids and lets them parties in her basement. Soon, the town’s teens are rocking out underneath the house of an unhinged woman.
The dialogue is pretty bad but is saved by Octavia Spencer’s chilling performance and some tense scenes. The films ridiculousness works in its favors at times, when I wasn’t rolling my eyes from it I was dying from laughter. This project has unintentional cheesiness that makes it rewatchable like The Rock Horror Picture Show.
What is even happening
Octavia Spencer plays Ma, who gives the audience something to latch onto with her sympathetic and troubled character. Spencer is the glue that keeps this whole project together and getting the audience to connect to someone.
Spencer is great, however, she doesn’t have much competition with everyone else being cardboard cutouts. They might as well be in Toy Story as the teens spit out the same dialogue heard in 1,000 other movies. It seems that the writers went, “label this kid ‘Angsty Teen #4’, pull the string on their back, and let’s call it a day”.
It’s hard to care about any of the teens when they are stupid and have very little personality. Add being unlikeable brats to the list and you’ll be rooting for Ma to take them out.
Although there is one teen, Maggie, who seems to have called in sick the day the town had a lobotomy. Diana Silvers does a good job in the role of being a flawed, yet likable, lead. She’s a good-hearted kid that makes mistakes but always tries to do right.
Maggie’s decisions come from the place of a teenager and it’s easy to go, “yeah, I woulda done that.” When red flags start going off left and right about Ma and everybody else ignores makes it even easier pick who you want Ma to get first.
The cast is full of great actors such as Luke Evans and Juliette Lewis. However, they aren’t given much to do as the parents. Lewis has a heartbreaking scene in a casino that doesn’t lead to much since she disappears for most of the movie. Evans is here to… cash an easy paycheck I guess?
Go Dumb. E-40 Would Be Proud
This film is dumb. Like really… really dumb. I’m talking Hummer driving in 2019 dumb. Ma relies on you accepting the whole town is made up of people that huff paint.
The movie has some good jump scares and moments of shouting out at the screen. But, fails when it comes to intentional comedy. It seems as if Jordan Peele has directors coming out the woodwork to make their own Get Out, but end up making another version of The Room instead.
There are plenty of parts played seriously that had the audience dying of laughter from the stupidity. This is a great cheesy movie to watch with friends on a random night, talk over, and react to. If you are looking for anything more, try last year’s Halloween.
There is so much potential in this film, it’s so easy to see a great version of this being made down the road. What’s here though is a potential waste of a night, depending on the audience you view it with.
When things are getting fun and intense the film abruptly ends. This climax is the equivalent of putting a full tank of gas in your car only for all the tires to blow out before the trip.
The Bad Cringe
There’s two types of cringe, the kind that has you smiling as you lower your head inside your body like a turtle. Then, there’s the other type of cringe that you makes to look away and rethink how you spend your free time. Ma has both of these.
There are some fun scenes and watching Ma become unhinged is a treat. The main problem with this movie is the good stuff is spread out unevenly. When things finally go pick up, it’s over quicker than a conversation between a cat and a dog.
The film has a slow build up that felt excessive as they tried to flesh out the characters. For example, the Ma flashbacks keep popping up and it’s easy to predict where it’ll end up. It became as pointless as guessing what card a magician has behind his back when there’s a mirror there.
A great aspect of a thriller is not knowing what’ll happen next or at least being engrossed enough to be distracted by the predictability. Like Marshawn Lynch said “you know why I’m here “, so get to the good stuff Ma.
This is film gets an extra star purely off having a great person or crowd to watch it with. Outside of that fun commentary experience, this is not something that can stand by itself.
So this is two stars for anyone watching this solo. Which is sad because Ma has all the right ingredients for a great thriller but is unable to connect them meaningfully.
Leave Your Sense At The Door
Verdict: Ma is an entertaining Friday night watch but nothing to run out to the theatre to see. If you are not expecting some revolutionary and like your pizza and movies with extra cheese, then this is for you. There are enough good scares, suspense and laughs to be had to make this worth your time. The important thing is to know what you’re getting into and having a good company to enjoy the weirdness.
What is your favorite campy horror flick? Does Ma seem like a fun watch to you? Let us know in the comments below!
- Unintentionally funny moments
- Good suspense & horror
- A blast with the right crowd
- Slow build up (first act)
- Predictable plot
- Needs a crowd to help make it fun
- Mostly generic dialogue
- Ending payoff dropped the ball