Pros: Octavia Spencer’s acting; in principle, a relevant topic. Cons: Predictability; there are practically no horror elements in the film Ma / “Ma”
Directed by Tate Taylor
Cast: Octavia Spencer (Sue Ann “Ma” Ellington), Diana Silvers (Maggie Thompson), Juliette Lewis (Erica Thompson), Luke Evans (Ben Hawkins), McKaylee Miller (Haley), Corey Fogelmanis (Andy Hawkins), Gianni Paolo ( Chaz), Dante Brown (Darrell), Missi Pyle (Mercedes), etc.
Студии Blumhouse Productions, Universal Pictures
Year of release 2019
I can understand Octavia Spencer agreeing to star in a film with a budget of $5 million, most of which probably went to the actors’ fees. After all, she has been working with Tate Taylor for a long time, and it was his film The Help (2011) that brought her recognition and the four most prestigious awards that everyone dreams of in Hollywood – Academy Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award. You can also understand Taylor, he shot quite good Get on Up / James Brown: The Way Up and The Girl on the Train / The Girl on the Train, but still, his collaboration with Spencer brought him the greatest fame.
And the script here seems to match the actress, who has three Oscar nominations (The Help (2012), Hidden Figures (2017) and The Shape of Water (2018)). Her character changes several times throughout the film, she manages to be a stupid simpleton, a cheerful girlfriend, a caring mother, and a completely mad genius with a perverted understanding of justice. An excellent role that allows Octavia Spencer’s talent to be fully revealed. It’s really interesting to follow her heroine’s albeit predictable metamorphoses, especially since in some scenes she completely changes literally within a second. It’s really strong.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about the other actors who starred in Ma. The performer of the second leading female role, Diana Silvers (Maggie), got into the film, it seems, only because the girl is like two peas in a pod like Anne Hathaway from the time of The Princess Diaries. Luke Evans (Ben) and Juliette Lewis (Erica) are here as still-popular supporting actors. Actually, that’s all, Maggie’s friends have merged into some kind of homogeneous amorphous mass, it is simply impossible to single out any of them.
In principle, Ma raises quite serious issues, such as the consequences of youth trauma based on sex and its transformation into hyperprotection over your own children and those whom you consider your children. It is no coincidence that the film is called Ma. His English slogan “Get Home Safe”, which was transformed in the Ukrainian version into “Ma about you,” reflects the essence perfectly. After all, what Ma does with the children who trust her is a perverted form of guardianship, hypertrophied, insane guardianship, an attempt to protect them from what happened to her in childhood. In general, this is the second recent Hollywood film that raises the topic of overprotection; the recent The Secret Life of Pets 2 was also dedicated to it.
Unfortunately, it seems that having identified important themes, the authors chose not to develop them further. In general, within the framework of youth horror, it was generally stupid to understand such issues.
However, despite the absolute similarity in some episodes with the same Scream (1996), Ma does not work well as a horror film. The movie just isn’t scary. In its 100-minute running time, there is only one episode during which there is anything resembling suspense, and two episodes that are a little unpleasant to watch. And it’s all. If you like thrills, this is not the picture you’re looking for.
So it turns out that as a youth horror, Ma is very weak, but as a psychological film about child cruelty and overprotection, it is too toothless. The only thing left to do is enjoy Octavia Spencer’s performance; she’s really on point here.
Horror without horror, which seems to raise serious questions, but seems afraid to reveal them