Ma ★★★★

Firstly, what the hell is wrong with America that someone can narc on five 17-18 year-old kids privately drinking and smoking in a hangout off the beaten track, and the police will turn up with lights and sirens to send them home?

Otherwise, it's refreshing to see a horror movie with likeable friends partying somewhere they shouldn't really be, and just going back to school the next day. They do this several times, all is cool. As the Cheeky Girls memorably put it, this is life. Unfortunately, the place they shouldn't be is the basement party den belonging to an older lady with ulterior motives. The kids soon realise that she's dodgy, but she tricks them back to hers, and that's when her psychotic side breaks out in this simple but very enjoyable "hostess from hell" thriller.

Weirdly, I think I liked this because it doesn't try too hard to be shocking, it's just a good story well told. It's a bit cheesy, yet it avoids all the current clichés of Hollywood horror; in that way it feels out of time. It's not exactly original, yet it somehow feels fresh. Having Juliette Lewis co-star as the lead's mom is a big deal for me, not just because she believably looks like she could be the lead's mom, but because she's always been one of my favourite actors, and she's as excellent as ever here. Octavia Spencer is also perfect as the maniac, convincing both as a friendly and seductive, eager-to-please lonely woman, and as an Annie Wilkes-like loony.

Blumhouse have shown once again that they really know how to pull off this sort of low-key genre fodder. It's nobody's idea of a classic horror movie, but bloody hell they can do this kind of thing well.

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