Ma ★★★


She is everywhere. She follows you when you're not looking. She lurks your social media accounts. She coerces you with shimmering promises of glamorous, booze-fueled dance parties. She's the cool adult, the one who runs into the store to grab your drinks for the party later that night, the animal-loving do-gooder who goes out of her way to get you what you need. She's the friend that's always there for the fun moments when you're up for it.

She's perfect.

Almost too perfect.

Ma is somehow destined to become a future horror B-movie classic in the coming decades. It's one of those movies that is so relentlessly off-the-wall nuts at times that audiences will probably find themselves jumping and screaming at every other jumpy horror moment as most modern audiences tend to do. It's the fun kind of scare that revels in its weird atmosphere and wannabe iconic horror character, complete with a backstory of her own that's slowly revealed as the story progresses through carefully selected flashback scenes. They really keep you in edge-of-your-seat suspense- although those who will have already seen the trailer for Ma may already have a general idea as to where this story goes, there's a lot more underlying in the story than what initially may have been suggested.

The story, penned by frequent Workaholics writer Scotty Landes and bizarrely directed by Tate Taylor, goes from mellow to hellish in a matter of minutes. Beginning sufficiently quickly as a teenage rebellion-style story of late night parties among friends filled with alcohol and weed, Octavia Spencer's skin-crawling-but-somehow-mildly-lovable Sue Ann sneaks her way onto the scene as mild-mannered as ever, luring these unsuspecting teens into her secluded home before unraveling her inner psychologically repressed tale of attachment and, in the end, revenge. Its revenge story almost feels undeserved, and way out of left field for where it was coming into play in the story, but if you already knew what you were getting into watching this film, you probably were anticipating it anyway. If only its suitably psychotic villainess had been allotted a more appropriate space for her inevitable breakdown, instead of flinging the pacing every which way into its third act.

But in the end, that's part of all the fun that Ma brings to the table. Its wildly unpredictable changes of pace at times provides a substantial amount of hyper-suspense, and a delirious kind of anxiety that only finds itself amplified by an A-list central performance from Spencer. It's the kind of January or midsummer horror flick that people go to for killing time on the weekend, then maybe a few years down the road bring it up in passing conversation when people talk about those wild horror movie experiences they had. It's not a story that should work in any sense, but one that I'm glad to have experienced, for better or for worse. It's the kind of gritty, down-and-dirty horror style that I like: a fun Freudian frolic that you should absolutely not watch if you have an intense fear of needles. I'm serious, you'll probably pass out midway through, and if you make it to the finale.... heaven help you.

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