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“MA” a Diabolical Thriller






Review by John Delia, Sr.

If you think the movie Get Out was shocking, wait until you see the diabolical Ma. You won’t have a clue to what this party woman has cooked up until just the right moment. Then as it unravels, even some of the hints are misleading. When you do know the truth, then it’s just one sick scene after another.

Being transferred from LA to a new school in her mom Erica’s (Juliette Lewis), small hometown in Ohio, Maggie gets noticed by a clique. The in-group members, Haley (McKaley Miller), Andy (Corey Fogelmanis, Darrell (Dante Brown), and Chaz (Gianni Paolo) are the wild bunch of the school crowd who like to get drunk and smoke pot. But, Maggie likes that they were the first to greet her and makes friends with them. She also has an instant connection to Andy.

Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann in “Ma,” directed by Tate Taylor.

Maggie gets invited to a gathering at the rock pile, but first the group needs to get some booze. When Chaz fails to convince someone to purchase it for them, Haley tells Maggie to try. Approaching Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer), the woman just pushes her off, but as luck would have it she recognizes some of the other group and decides to purchase liquor for them. But the second time it happens she tells the kids that they have to drink it at her house so she knows that the driver will not drive drunk when they leave.

Thus begins a relationship with the clique and Sue Ann turning into something that both parties were not expecting. Director Tate Taylor (Girl on the Train) and screenwriter Scotty Landis (“Workaholics) team up for one of the most fiendish films since Get Out. Nicely written the movie keeps you guessing about Sue Ann’s motive for being so nice to the group, even inviting more students to her home for wilder parties. But, then when it seems you have all the clues figured out, it pulls off another layer of her nefarious plan.

(from left) Haley (McKaley Miller), Chaz (Gianni Paolo), Darrell (Dante Brown), Andy (Corey Fogelmanis) and Maggie (Diana Silvers) in “Ma,” directed by Tate Taylor.

The performance as Sue Ann by Octavia Spencer is off the chain making her character very nice then extremely malicious as she coaxes the kids into her den of booze and drugs. I like the way she presents herself when she first meets Maggie, you just know Sue Ann is up to something. She never gives too much away as the film goes on, just providing a smile and offering her help to Maggie and Haley whenever necessary. But the audience begins to know that there’s more amiss here than Sue Ann energizing her life from her loneliness.

(from left) Darrell (Dante Brown, back to camera), Chaz (Gianni Paolo), Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) and Haley (McKaley Miller) in “Ma,” directed by Tate Taylor.

I have purposely avoided describing some of the other characters in the film as it may give away a bit too much information so as to spoil the film for the most ardent fans of thrillers. But, I would be remiss if I left out some praise for Juliette Lewis who plays Erica, Maggie’s suspicious mother. Her character evolves as the film plays out from a mild mannered single mom returning to her hometown for a new start, to a raving mad woman caught in the cross-hairs of a lunatic.

Ma has been rated R by the MPAA for violent/disturbing material, language throughout, sexual content, and for teen drug and alcohol use.

FINAL ANALYSIS: For thriller lovers it’s not to be missed. (4 out of 5 stars)  

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Dante Brown, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, and Diana Silvers
Directed by: Tate Taylor
Written by: Scotty Landis
Genre: Horror, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R for violent/disturbing material, language throughout, sexual content, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.
Opening Date: May 31, 2019
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Released in: Standard, Color

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