Ma is a 2019 psychological horror film directed by Tate Taylor, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scotty Landes. It stars Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, and Luke Evans. The film is produced by Jason Blum, through his Blumhouse Productions company, as well as Taylor and John Norris.
A lonely middle-aged woman befriends some teenagers and decides to let them party in the basement of her home. But there are some house rules: One of the kids has to stay sober, don't curse, and never go upstairs. They must also refer to her as Ma. But as Ma's hospitality starts to curdle into obsession, what began as a teenage dream turns into a terrorizing nightmare, and Ma's place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on Earth.
Ma was a film that I really wasn't all that excited for. The trailers didn't look that good to me. Going into the film, my expectations were pretty low. I do have a soft spot for bad horror films, so there was hope. However, even with my low expectations, I left the film a little disappointed. This was a bad horror film that I could have potentially loved, but I was legitimately disappointed because it had potential to be so much more.
It just felt like they held back. The film's rated R, but with the exception of strong language and maybe one scene, the film doesn't utilize it. The violence is pretty contained, but that's far from the film's biggest problem. The characters were very weak. Ma was the only one given any real depth and development. I ended up really loving her character, but all the others were weak, uninteresting, and even boring. The film really went downhill every time Ma wasn't on screen.
There are plenty of bad horror films that I still loved that had bad characters. The thing is that this film had the chance to build at least two more half decent characters but chose not to. They mention certain things that could've build up the character, but then they throw it out the window and never mention it again. That was my biggest problem with the entire film.
They introduced certain things that could have made the film deeper and so much better, but then they toss it to the side and never mention it again for some reason. They have a few twists and turns but most of them didn't get the proper build up to be effective. The film suffered so much because they show glimpses of it actually being great, but instead it opts for the generic route.
These character at times felt more like plot devices, and the story molded the film rather than the characters. The film contradicted and stepped on it's own toes so many times. There's times where characters make certain decisions, but instantly double back on it. It didn't feel natural and was pretty annoying.
As a whole, I was disappointed with the film. Ma had the potential to be better, but they took the safe route. The film really lacked tension and suspense for the first two acts, and every character excluding Ma was very bland. I found myself pretty bored whenever Ma wasn't on the screen. Overall, the film is not terrible, but it's not great. I left feeling very disappointed.
Octavia Spencer was amazing as Ma, and definitely the best part of the film. She gave a characteristic, intense, funny, and downright insane performance. Whenever she wasn't on screen, the film suffered. She knew exactly what to give the role.
The main teenagers played by Diana Silvers, Corey Fogelmanis, McKaley Miller, Gianni Paolo, and Dante Brown all did fine, especially given the fact that all their characters were so bland and the writing wasn't the greatest.
Luke Evans popped up a couple of times and he did good. Juliette Lewis and Allison Janney both had limited roles, but they were fine in them.
Overall, the acting was fine. The actors and actresses made boring, flat, and uninteresting characters somewhat watchable.
The story was fine, but the plot is where I thought this film really missed the mark. It wasn't necessarily bad, but overall I thought it was a huge missed opportunity. The film had so many chances to be great, but it chose not to. They introduce something promising before destroying it only a few moments later, or never mentioning it again.
The film started off slow, and it didn't really pick up until the third act. We follow a very uninteresting character doing uninteresting things in her uninteresting life. The first hour was pretty boring, especially when Ma wasn't on screen. There just wasn't anything interesting or intriguing about it.
The last 30 or so minutes were by far the best part of the film, but it came a little too late. The film relied on a climax that they barely built up, and there just wasn't a lot happening for an hour. I just never got fully engaged.
Overall I was very disappointed with Ma. Other than Octavia Spencer's excellent performance, nothing else was great. The characters were flat, the plot could have used a lot of work, the majority of the film lacked suspense and tension, and I thought it was petty boring and not particularly interesting for most of the film.
The film showed promise at times and had plenty of opportunities to be great, but they choose the easy way out, which was very disappointing.
Overall I didn't think the film was good, and I found it disappointing.
© 2019 Royce Proctor
Larry Slawson from North Carolina on June 12, 2019:
I almost went and watched this when it came out. Was curious if it was any good. Thank you for sharing.