MA Review—What’s a nice actress like Octavia Spencer doing in a film like this?

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Ma Review — A-List talent in a B-List horror film. That alone should give you the creeps.

Ma reviewAt first glance, Ma appears to be your basic B-horror flick: Sue Ann, an increasingly unhinged middle-aged woman buys booze for high school kids at a liquor store, graduates to allowing them to party in her basement, then finally unleashes her scorned woman fury on them. If it’s campy enough, it could be frightfully fun, right?

Well, suffice it to say that it’s not campy enough. It’s hard to get past the gravitas of its leading lady, none other than Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer. She’s simply too good for this material.

Dig a little deeper, and you find that the director is also in under his head—the oh-so-adroit Tate Taylor is the same guy who helmed films like Winter’s Bone, The Girl on the Train and The Help (for which Spencer won her Oscar). It’s a little difficult to process a cheesy teenage horror flick coming from such A-list talent.

And it doesn’t stop there. Is that another Oscar winner, Allison Janny, cameoing as a cranky veterinarian? Could that really be Luke Evans in a throwaway role as the sleazy father of one of the kids? And please don’t tell me that’s really his giant…. that Sue Ann whips out and threatens to cut off while he’s bound to a bed ala Misery.

Okay, well at least that last part is campy enough. But there are too few nervous giggles for Ma to be campy, and too few jump scares for Ma to be frightening. I will say this for it though: there are sufficient recoiling shivers for Ma to be creepy.

It feels like most of the people working on this film, including screenwriter Scotty Landis and cinematographer Christina Voros, are slumming it. Because of their other work, I’m willing to give them a pass.

Rated R

1 Hour 50 Minutes

If, after reading this Ma review, you still want to see it, get times and tickets at

Ma Review — A-List talent in a B-List horror film. That alone should give you the creeps.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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