“Ma,” starring Octavia Spencer, is about a mysterious villain who opens her home to numerous teenagers after purchasing them alcohol at the local liquor store. But the situation soon turns into their worst nightmare.
The film’s trailer, which was released in February of this year, had already garnered extreme hype from the film’s main villain being played by Spencer, an African American woman. Having Spencer in this leading role presents amazing representation in the entertainment industry.
The film starts off introducing the audience to the heroine of sorts, Maggie Thompson, played by Diana Silvers, as well as her mother, Erica Thompson, played by acting veteran Juliette Lewis. With some slight background, we as the audience are informed that Maggie and Erica are moving to a new place, the town Erica originally grew up in.
The film honestly kicks into high gear quite quickly; Maggie is recruited into the high school’s group of “cool kids” soon after she starts at her new school. The teenagers then seek to get alcohol and are introduced to Sue Ann, also known as “Ma.”
From the moment of introduction, you can tell how fragile Sue Ann is just based off some of the excitement she gets from speaking with the group of teens. Now after much back and forth, the group of teens are led back to Ma’s place where a night of “fun” ensues; Ma even goes as far as pulling a gun on one of the teens.
With the teens being intoxicated with the idea of having a place of true freedom and someone who will buy their liquor for them, it clouds their judgment of how weird the situation really is. The only one who can tell this is a weird situation is Maggie as she gazes upon the weirdness she is enduring. Given only a couple rules, such as no cursing and no going upstairs, the teens are practically in heaven, it seems.
Throughout the film, you are given glimpses of Ma as a teenager in the same high school with the parents of the teenagers she is hanging around with in present time. It’s made clear in the first flashback that Ma had an attraction to Ben Hawkins, father of Andy, one of the teens now hanging around in her basement.
Throughout the number of flashbacks in the film, you begin to understand where Ma’s initial rage comes from; the things that the teenagers’ parents did to her as a kid were truly disgusting. The flashbacks clearly show that their acts not only continue to take its toll on Sue Ann but others around her as well.
The horror scenes in the film were great because it showed the versatility and range of Octavia Spencer. It was nice to see her character snap from this vulnerable pet receptionist to vengeful-psycho-revenge-seeking Sue Ann. Not only is Spencer’s performance to be praised, but Diana Silvers as well. Silvers proved to be a great scream queen in the realm of horror movies.
Serving as a great start to horror films for the summer as well as a great step toward more representation in horror films, I feel this film served its purpose. Although only slightly falling short in some capacity due to me feeling as though it could have done a lot more with its premise, we still get the point and understand the message. Be careful who you bully, you never know what they might be capable of.
Echo Grade: B