Ma - This Slow Burn Movie Just About Rocks
Dir: Tate Taylor
Starring Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Missi Pyle, Alison Janney, Luke Evans
Blumhouse take a distinct turn away from their well-tried and hugely profitable “quiet/BANG” approach to deliver, somewhat unexpectedly, The Help Part 2.
OK, it’s not quite that, but it does reunite director Tate Taylor and one of his leading ladies from that movie, Octavia Spencer. And here she is anything but sub-servient.
Spencer is Sue Ann – soon known to the local teenagers as the friendly “Ma” – who not only buys their under-age selves liquor, but offers up her basement for them to party in. Too good to be true? Of course, the one rule being whatever you do, you can’t go upstairs...
Taylor is more concerned here, at least initially, with creating more of a psychological thriller than a standard issue horror flick. As we spend more and more time with Ma (and as her surrogate children desire to spend less and less time with her), secrets from Ma’s life, both past and present, begin to emerge.
It’s a slow burn and one that benefits immensely from the quality of Spencer’s detailed and often quietly terrifying performance. Yet, she never verges into psycho territory, always shading her character with at least some empathy. Whilst it is of course inevitable that things will not end well, Taylor’s film has a few inventive twists, with homely ole Ma – who starts with contemporary cyber stalking - eventually using such household activities as ironing, sewing and painting to great effect as things finally kick off.
It takes a good while to come to the boil, and is ultimately a tad too slight, but Ma does intrigue and involve for the most part.
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