Starring: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, McKaley Miller
Director: Tate Taylor
Running Time: 99 mins
Ma is an American film about a lonely middle-aged woman who befriends a group of teenagers by letting them party in her house. But soon, her friendship begins to unsettle the group as they question her real intentions.
This is one of those films that seems pretty good on paper. With the potential for a mix of unsettling thrills and popcorn horror fun, Ma has all the hallmarks of an enjoyable time at the movies. Sadly, it’s far too ridiculous to deliver that, proving underwhelming, boring and lacking in tension throughout.
But let’s start on the bright side. Ma isn’t a particularly good film, but there are moments where it does provide some decent entertainment. Octavia Spencer’s lead performance is okay – she’s never really that intimidating or unnerving – but her most outlandish, crazed moments are a lot of fun.
Couple that with some of the screenplay’s more fun-loving moments, and Ma’s ridiculousness suddenly makes a lot more sense. The problem, however, is that it takes itself a little too seriously throughout, without really backing that atmosphere up with any real excitement, intrigue or tension.
The lack of tension is the biggest disappointment. For what could have been an entertaining and exciting popcorn horror, Ma really misses the mark with the suspense, featuring an unintimidating antagonist, predictable twists and a general lack of eerie atmosphere or threat.
That makes the film barely feel like a horror movie at times, and more like a by-the-numbers Hollywood thriller with few original ideas to offer. The story doesn’t do much to grab you, yet nor does it feature enough hilariously outlandish moments to give the film a preposterous fun factor.
The plot is plainly ridiculous, yet it’s really boring to watch. Ma should take its most ridiculous characteristics and run with them, turning itself into a bizarre, hilariously dark horror-thriller to be loved as a cult film forever. Instead, it tries too hard to be a popular, plastic Hollywood thriller, and as such loses all its potential charm and fun.
Overall, I was really disappointed with Ma. A film that’s full of promise as a fun-loving, crazy horror-thriller, it squanders a ridiculous but potentially entertaining story with a woeful lack of tension, dull twists and an unnecessarily high opinion of itself. And that’s why I’m giving it a 5.9.