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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz


Let me make something as clear as I possibly can: Ma was never meant to be a scary or serious film. With its cliche script with all the predictable twists and turns, Ma loses all credibility in the quality department. Its entertainment department on the other hand is doing great. Or at least it did great with me. Ma made me laugh so hard, I almost had a heart attack. Ma is said to be a horror film but that’s not true. Ma is witty, unapologetic and just a flat out party.

Ma is about Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) who befriends a group of teens trying to buy alcohol whom she lets party in her basement. One of them nicknames her Ma and that nickname sticks. Soon, her basement becomes a local hotspot for all the teens of the sleepy Ohio town they all live in. Ma’s friendship with them however soon turns to obsession as some of their parents went to high school with her and she’s out for revenge.

While I can appreciate that everyone needs a fun horror film once in awhile as opposed to an actual scary one, its lead actor leaves me wishing this film was more serious which would, of course, require drastic changes to its garbage dump of a script.

Octavia Spencer is known to give audiences their fair share of chuckles but ultimately, she’s an indie queen and everyone likes seeing her in those. I’m certainly not trying to typecast her. I’m a firm believer that actors should be allowed to do and try everything. Octavia deserved the fun cliche horror experience she had but her talent does make me fantasize about what Ma could have been.

There’s a scene where she’s driving and pulls over because some teens who’ve been to her house are driving behind her and want her attention. They then vandalize her car and drive off shouting that she’s a loser. The tears her eyes then produce fully captures that level of hurt she feels and has been feeling her whole life. Had the script been different, Octavia could’ve had an opportunity to explore Ma to a higher vantage point, which brings me to another thing.

Those who’ve seen the trailer know she’s going to do some pretty bad things but not to the point where we don’t sympathize with her. I’m sure most audiences will sympathize with her a little bit but the extent of how she’s victimized angered me to my very core. I love flawed characters because they’re so daring and interesting but Ma just isn't the film for all that. Betrayal can make you do terrible things but the things Ma does are just too irreversible.

Luke Evans and Juliette Lewis portray the people who betrayed her. Juliette Lewis definitely has a lot of zeal. As an actress, I sometimes feel she does not get as much credit for her work as she should but in Ma, it’s like she’s not acting at all. Perhaps Ma is just something she’s did to pass the time before filming something she can actually thrive in. Luke Evans is miraculous in everything he does but Ma doesn’t give him anything to really do either. Fortunately, he’s so irresistibly gorgeous, you at least have enough patience to get through his scenes without thinking about his role too much.

Diana Silvers is Juliette Lewis’s daughter and while she makes some pretty bad decisions, she’s certainly the smartest of her friends. While her part is relatively huge, she lacks substance. Her character was written as a pawn not a person. She had much more to do in Booksmart which audiences will instantly recognize her from.

Overall, Ma is a basic reminder of two things: One, bad performances are often due to how characters are written and Two, Octavia Spencer deserved better. She’s expressed her desire to do horror for a long time and while she probably had a lot of fun making it, artists of her level deserve something much more riveting to sink their teeth into.

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