Ma (2019) - The Movie Review
Ma - The Basics
Ma (2019) is a psychological horror/thriller starring Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, and Corey Fogelmanis. It follows a group of teenagers eager to get drunk in a small, dull town. After accepting the assistance of an older woman, they quickly realize that something is off with this woman.
Produced by Blumhouse Productions and Wyolah Films
Did "Ma" scare you?
Ma - The story
I'd like to start this off by saying I had high hopes for this movie (I should know better by now) - Octavia Spencer who plays 'Ma' aka Sue Ann Ellington is a favorite actress of mine. The premise for this movie comes across very creepy, which is of course a good thing.
We follow the movie through the eyes of Maggie Thompson played by Diana Silvers, who has moved back to her mother's home town. While her mother is always working and never home anymore, Maggie ends up making friends with the trouble-making group in the school who always like to party. This group ends up meeting Sue Ann while attempting to find an adult to buy liquor for them. Creepy moments occur throughout their encounters, but as teenagers just looking to party they end up ignoring these warnings.
Sue Ann ends up convincing the group to come back to her home, under the pretense that she just wants them to have a safe place to drink. More troubling moments occur as we watch Sue Ann (Ma) interact with other people when not around the teenagers.
Ma - The Good and the Bad
The story has a really good plot, there was a lot of potential in this movie. But a lot of it fell short due to not so great acting except for by Octavia Spencer and Diana Silvers, incredibly odd dialogue, and weird ramp up.
All of the teenagers were pretty unconvincing except for Diana Silvers who plays Maggie Thompson. She was decent. Her character, responses, and dialogue was believable. Everyone else were pretty unmemorable. It is honestly difficult for me to even truly recall their characters and I just watched the movie last night (9/25/2019)
Another thing that made the movie difficult to swallow was the dialogue, I know I seem to be mention dialogue a lot in my movie reviews if you've read any of the other ones but it is only because it is really important. Near the beginning of the movie, one of the teenage boys, Chaz played by Gianni Paolo steps to Sue Ann (Ma) in a super aggressive way for pretty much no reason. This leads to a pretty intense and awkward scene between Sue Ann and Chaz in front of the group in Sue Ann's basement. He essentially tells her how to deck out her basement, and if she doesn't do what he suggests then she won't be cool. It was just incredibly strange - came out of no where. Sue Ann ends up pulling out a gun on Chaz then orders him to strip completely in front of the group, she then laughs it off as does the rest of the group as if that is normal.
That is just one example of unnatural dialogue. Another would be, Sue Ann shows up at their high school, eager to invite them back to her place again. And the kids tell her no, she continues to pester them until the 'popular' girl Haley played by McKaley Miller tells Ma that she needs to find a man and basically get a life. Quite rude. Ma ends up snapping at the girl then leaves. More and more instances let these teenagers know something is wrong with Sue Ann and they attempt to gain distance from her. But not successfully enough.
The good thing about this story for me, is while the execution wasn't handled as best as it could've been, it brings to light a very important issue that affects us all now. Bullying, and how it can come back to bite you in the butt.
Ma - Theme
As I mentioned, this movie really sticks it in your face about the problems our society is dealing with. We've come to a point in our lives where people end up saying whatever they want, regardless of who it hurts, or what the consequences may be. In fact a lot of people assume there WON'T be any consequences at all. However, this movie proves, albeit a bit drastically, that messing with someone's psyche, continuously putting someone down DOES affect them. The phrase sticks and bones may break my bones but words cannot hurt me is truthful yet a lie. If you're surrounded by people who put you down, call you trash or a loser, sooner or later you WILL snap.
Why? Because it isolates you, makes you feel like you have no one in your corner, no self worth, to the point that you become less than a human. And when you become less than a human you start to lose the ability to care about other people. Why care for someone who views you as not even a person? It just naturally occurs in your mind, you would shut down, to protect yourself, and if you shut down then you cannot trust or vent or let people in. That hatred and self-loathing will shatter you and fester inside until you cannot take it anymore.
Now I'm not saying it is cool what Sue Ann does, but I AM saying I understand why she does what she does. The movie dances back and forth between the past and the present, showing us why Sue Ann is the way she is. This is a movie about bullying and revenge, it is something we all need to give serious thought to. Mental health and or stability is where all of the terrible things start. No one is just a terrible person just cause. It is because they grew up in an abusive environment or they were bullied in school and no one protected them. Each instance chips away at a person's mentality until there's nothing left but darkness.
Ma - MPPA
"Ma" is rated R (for violent/disturbing material, language throughout, sexual content, and for teen drug and alcohol use) - and to add a comment about my personal rating for the movie - I gave it three stars because it had potential, and there were things I enjoyed about this movie.