HOLLYWOOD—It is Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer in a role unlike anything we’ve seen her in before. I had to take a moment to come to the realization that this woman has appeared in a lot of movies, but has never had a starring role until now. Spencer shines as a twisted woman, who might appear sane, but if you dig a bit deeper you will see something is wrong with her in the thriller “Ma.”
Spencer reunites with director Tate Taylor (“The Help”) to showcase some fine acting in my opinion showing her ability to take the audience on a hell of a rollercoaster ride. She portrays Sue Ann ‘Ma’ Ellington, who seems like a nice lady, but if you cross her, you might regret it. Sue Ann befriends a group of friends including Maggie (Diana Silvers) looking to score some alcohol courtesy of an adult. After seeing tons of people pass the teens by, Sue Ann decides to help the kids out.
That incident soon leads to the teens being stalked by Sue Ann in a set of disturbing incidents. Her house soon becomes the place to party as Maggie and her pals spread the news to the rest of the school. However, that is where the originality of the flick stops. Why? It falls into the typical troupe of any horror film that is ultimately a tale of revenge. Sue Ann went to school with Ben (Luke Evans), whose son Andy (Corey Fogelmanis) has been hanging out with ‘Ma.’
It soon makes perfect sense why Sue Ann has befriended the teens as she has a quench for vengeance after being embarrassed by Ben, Mercedes (Missi Pyle) and Erica (Juliette Lewis) when they were teens in high school. “Ma” which at first seems like a genuine, freakish thrill-ride becomes predictable, but Spencer’s layered performance is worth every moment. We see this woman go from calm, to crazed, to unhinged to comedic. It really is a versatile role for the actress who carries the entire film with her acting alone.
Taylor takes a film by all account would fall right in with all the cliché flicks of the 80s and 90s and allows an actress who proves she has the chops to take things to new heights. Was I disappointed by “Ma” not falling into the typical trap of classic and modern day horror? Yes, but I was immersed in the mayhem. You might cringe a few times in the theater seat from the violence dispatched in the movie, but with horror its expected territory.
If you’re looking to be scared senseless this movie will not do the trick, but if you want to be unnerved, entertained and have a great time at the multiplex “Ma” is the perfect cup of tea.