Starring: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, Missi Pyle
The prospect of a blank check to go completely off-piste must seem exciting – unrestrained violence and debauchery seemed to be on the cards with Ma, giving Octavia Spencer her own Look What You Made Me Do moment in which a group of underaged high school kids enlists the help of a seemingly harmless middle-aged woman to buy them alcohol.
This woman is Su-Ann, quickly known as Ma. She takes a liking to these teenagers and lets them party in her basement. But your parents weren't lying, it's not a good idea to talk to strangers. Something about Ma isn't right – in her house, in her past. Her wide smile harbours a grudge, and these parties with her former classmates' offsprings are now building towards something more vindictive.
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a terrible thing - Taylor wickedly imagines the most grotesque repercussions to come from Su-Ann's deep-rooted insecurity. The director opts for quick and fast scares, more than complex psychological studies. No one comes off particularly well – these students don't have much to say, they just want to party, and Ma just lets them.
But by letting these base-level desires tesselate, Ma sidesteps its major potential. Questions of selfish youth and malicious shaming are ever so briefly alluded to, but Spencer's performance is so unhinged that it's easy to miss dialogue inbetween the loud peels of laughter exploding throughout the audience.
Rising star Diana Silvers leads the central group of teenagers as Maggie, a new student who quickly makes friends and reacts to the shocking events with overdirected bathos. It's more misguided than malicious, as Ma even attempts to pepper in some semi-feminist exclamations.
The problem is that it's all semi- something. Semi-horrifying, semi-hilarious, semi-stupid, and while Ma offers visceral bursts of entertainment when these semi-thrilling moments hit, the lack of logic and, in some instances, dignity, prevents the film from really committing to its hellish promises.
|What||Ma film review|
31 May 19 – 31 May 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|