Director: Tate Taylor
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, Luke Evans
Have I Seen it Before: Maybe I have, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t squirming in my seat the whole time.
Did I Like It: I like it the moments after I saw it. I might have really liked it had I possessed absolutely no concept of what the film would be about going in. It may split from my mind the more time passes.
That is to say that there is no problem with the suspense quotient of Ma. It’s forty miles of bad road, and the only qualm that I would have with the film is that it ends up in a fairly predictable place. It forges together elements from Psycho (1960), Carrie (1976), and Misery (1990), just to name a few, it all ends somewhere in the vicinity of the territory in which those movies did.
There was potential for this to go into some truly dark places, and some of those places might have made Sue Ann (Spencer) a more thoroughly sympathetic villain. The borderline-incestuous connections between the people in that small town could have taken some terrible turns, and everyone could have been a little bit damned at the end of the proceedings. Instead, the worst character are punished in appropriate, if morbid, ways.
That’s a minor complaint, though. A horror movie need not have sympathy for its villain to be successful within the context of its genre, and Ma succeeds in so many places where other genre pictures fail. The teenagers all believably behave and interact with one another. If I had a dime for every horror movie that missed the mark in that regard, I’d be richer than Jason Blum at this point. And, despite how the sum of the film’s parts might underwhelm, God help me if I didn’t squirm through every moment of the road to get there. That’s a testament to Octavia Spencer’s commitment to a role that other Oscar winners might have blanched at. One imagines that this film might not make the waves to typecast her, and if she keeps swinging for the fences like this, there may be some other little gold men in her future.