One Year Later, Blumhouse's Ma is Still On Top
A year ago today, Blumhouse Productions, the company that gave us gems such as Paranormal Activity (2009), Insidious (2010), Sinister (2012), The Purge (2013), Ouija (2014), The Visit (2015), Get Out (2017), Happy Death Day (2017), Insidious: The Last Key (2018), Truth or Dare (2018) and Halloween (2018), almost all that I have watched, released Ma (2019), one of the sickest, most twisted movies I've seen in a while.
I had been under the impression that horror movies just aren't cut from the same cloth like they once were. I thought, gone are the days of the slow and steady Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers, or the inescapably sinister Freddie Kreugers, or the suffocatingly spooky Bloody Marys and Candymen, but filmmakers like Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Jason Blum of Blumhouse, have proven me wrong by remaining true to the essence of the genre, while making it their own. No longer do we need a villain in a scary costume terrorizing a group of people, when we have the friendly neighbour, high school classmate or the girlfriend hiding in plain sight.
Natural Born Killers (1994) and The Other Sister (1999) actress Juliette Lewis stars as Erica, a woman who moves back to her hometown of Ohio with her daughter Maggie, played by Netflix's Space Force (2020) star Diana Silvers, after her husband leaves her. What seems like the best, most practical decision for her and her daughter, quickly turns into the biggest regret of her life.
In her first villainous role, The Help (2011) and Hidden Figures (2016) actress Octavia Spencer stars as Sue Ann a.k.a. Ma, a widow who works as a technician at the local veterinary clinic and who keeps her daughter locked away in her room 24/7. Sue Ann is the victim of a high school prank that she never got over, led by her crush Ben, played by The Raven's (2012) and Dracula Untold's (2014) Luke Evans, which also involved Erica, Mercedes, played by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's (2005) Missi Pyle, and the rest of the school. However, despite having lived in the same town as Ben, his son and his friends, and Mercedes for the past 20 years, it seems as if Erica's return with her daughter created the perfect opportunity for Sue Ann to finally exact revenge.
Rather than dealing with her classmates directly, Sue Ann befriends Maggie, Ben's son Andy (Corey Fogelmanis), and their friends Haley (McKaley Miller), Chaz (Gianni Paolo) and Darrell (Dante Brown), insisting that they refer to her as "Ma", buying them alcohol and allowing them to drink it and throw parties in her basement, as a way to gain their trust before unleashing her evil.
In what was a different role for her, Spencer completely bodied the character of Ma. It was such a delight not only to see her so sinister, but to also see a Black female lead in a horror film, especially when it's known that Black characters are usually the first to be killed [with only Kelly Rowland lasting almost to the end of Freddy vs Jason (2003) and LL Cool J lasting to the end of Deep Blue Sea (1999) and Mindhunters (2004)].
What I loved most about the film is how Spencer's natural personality was construed as evil and odd. Although Sue Ann/Ma was a very welcoming, friendly and mild-tempered person, in the right setting, coupled with her horrifying backstory, these very characteristics could also work against her. As the saying goes, too much of anything isn't good. The sweet, nerdy Sue Ann from high school, quickly became the needle-carrying maniac next door.
The closer Ma became with her classmates' children the more they hung out, the more unusually odd she became to them. It didn't take long for her true intentions to rise to the surface, with Ben threatening her and Erica having to save the day, leaving no one on Sue Ann's side, not even her daughter.
Without giving away the ending, however, for those who may want to #quarantineandchill this #quarantineandKILL flick, although no one was on Sue Ann's side, someone was definitely by her side 'til the very end. Let's just say, I would do anything to be with a dead or an alive Luke Evans too, Sue ;)!
I've watched and enjoyed many Blumhouse films and have become a fan for life, and Ma is another slam dunk added to their long list of hits. I would have never guessed to put Spencer in a horror movie, let alone one where she is the lead within a fully-white cast, save for Dante Brown, especially when Lewis is known for these types of roles, but this is why Blumhouse Productions has quickly become the top horror/thriller production company today.
Keep an eye out for Blumhouse's new film Magic 8-Ball, in collaboration with Mattel Films.
Released: May 31, 2019
Director: Tate Taylor
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Diana Silvers, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Juliette Lewis, Teagan Edsell, Luke Evans, Andrew Matthew Welch, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Missi Pyle, Nicole Carpenter, Tanyell Waivers, Allison Janney, Dominic Burgess, Heather Marie Pate, Tate Taylor, Victor Turpin, Margaret Fegan.