Directed by: Tate Taylor
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Crime, Comedy
Release date: 31 May 2019
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Ma is a 2019 American psychological horror comedy film directed by Tate Taylor, from a screenplay by Scotty Landes and Taylor, and a story by Landes. It stars Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, McKaley Miller, Missi Pyle, Corey Fogelmanis, Marjay Ross, Gianni Paolo, and Dante Brown. The film is being produced by Jason Blum through Blumhouse Productions and John Norris.
The film is scheduled to be released on 31 May 2019, by Universal Pictures.
The revenge film follows Sue Ann (Spencer), a killer who struggles with social rejection, peer pressure, and bullying. She is a lonely veterinary aide who lives in a town in Ohio. Things start to go wrong when she meets a group of teenagers. Despite their age differences, Sue Ann was invited into the clique, which she buys alcohol for. At first, it was fun for Sue Ann, who came to be called Ma, as her friendship with the high schoolers gives her the opportunity to be social and it gets her invites to parties. However, it becomes increasingly difficult for her to let go of her friends during weekends. She eventually develops an obsessive fixation on the group. The involvement of her friends’ parents also triggered past trauma. These developments lead to violence.
The film is noted for being one of the first horror movies to feature a female, black lead.
Principal photography on the film started in February 2018 and ended in March 2018. Filmed in Natchez, Mississippi.
Ma is scheduled to be released on May 31, 2019. The first trailer was released on February 13, 2019. In the United States and Canada, Ma is set to be released alongside Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Rocketman, and is projected to gross around $20 million in its opening weekend.
Ma: Movie Trailer
Ma: Movie Review
Octavia Spencer Serves Up Liquor, Terror and a Killer Performance
“Ma,” a clammy, sloppy, sometimes funny thriller about an enabler of underage drinking, could and maybe should have been advertised as “from the director of ‘The Help’ and the producer of ‘Get Out.’” The cognitive dissonance of seeing those two titles in one phrase is pretty good preparation for the crossed signals and jammed circuits that make this movie interesting.
Which isn’t the same as good, exactly. The director (Tate Taylor) and the screenwriter (Scotty Landes) take a premise with all kinds of potential — a middle-aged woman first befriends and then terrorizes a bunch of teenagers — and find various ways to mess it up, while also delivering a few jolts and laughs along the way. And also leaving room for a handful of odd and engaging performances.
The four best parts of the movie are Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Allison Janney and, supremely, Octavia Spencer, who plays the title character, a veterinarian’s assistant also known as Sue Ann. (Janney, drawing on leftover grouchiness from “I, Tonya,” plays the veterinarian.) Lewis and Silvers are Erica and Maggie, a mother and daughter who have recently moved back to Erica’s hometown. She takes a job at the local casino, and her daughter enrolls at the local high school, which was her mother’s alma mater as well as Sue Ann’s. There she befriends a group of mildly rebellious students, developing a crush on one named Andy (Corey Fogelmanis).
It turns out that Andy’s father (Luke Evans) also went to high school with Erica and Sue Ann, a fact that takes on greater significance as the present-day intrigue develops. After reluctantly agreeing to buy liquor for the kids, Sue Ann, insisting on the nickname Ma, invites them to her rambling house in the middle of the woods. She has a basement that serves as a perfect party room. Before long it’s a thriving kiddie speakeasy, with minimal rules — don’t go upstairs is the main one — and decidedly lax adult supervision.
There’s a catch, of course. There are a few too many catches, to be honest. Maggie and her pals — Haley (McKaley Miller), Darrell (Dante Brown) and Chaz (Gianni Paolo), in addition to Andy — start to get a little creeped out about their new friend. For her part, Sue Ann turns out to be motivated not so much by pathetic loneliness as by a long-simmering, pathological desire for revenge.
As a genre exercise, “Ma” offers some juicy, nasty kicks, but it also gestures — with maddening coyness — in the direction of the kind of socially aware allegory that made “Get Out” (and “Us”) so fascinating. Sue Ann is black, and all but one of Maggie’s friends are white, but race is mentioned only once, even though it casts a heavy shadow on the back story. There seem to be no other African-American adults in this town, and Ma, though she lives with her daughter (Tanyell Waivers), has no other family or friends.
Whether Taylor and Landes are aiming for subtlety or deniability — whether “Ma” is a critique of racial thinking or an experiment in color-blindness — is a question to ponder, if you’re so inclined. Either way, the movie ties itself up in knots as it tries to be provocative without giving offense, and offering more complacency and comfort than terror.
In essence, “Ma” serves up a hand-wringing, guilty case against reparations, painting an attempt to find redress for past crimes as monstrous and leaning heavily on an archetypal assumption of black scariness. “What happened to you was wrong, and we should have stopped it,” someone says to Sue Ann late in the film. Coming when it does in the action, the line is more like a punch line than an apology. The joke is still on the title character, who made the mistake of supposing that her feelings, or her life, might matter.