Ma

Ma ★½

Octavia Spencer plays Sue Ann "Ma" Ellington, a local veterinary tech in small-town backwater USA, haunted by her traumatic past at the local high school who helps a bunch of local teens buy some liquor one day and soon sees an opportunity for companionship and invites them back to her basement to party.
She quickly becomes a popular local underage drinking hostess though won't let any of the kids upstairs.
Harrassed at her work by her abrupt boss Dr Brooks (Allison Janney) and still harbouring a grudge against her ex-high school tormentors such as Ben Hawkins (Luke Evans) and his girlfriend Mercedes (Missi Pyle) Ma is concealing a few dark secrets of her own and appears to be on the brink of a complete psychotic breakdown.
New girl in town Maggie Thomson (Diana Silvers) who's mother Erica (Juliette Lewis) also went to school with Sue Ann seems to be the only one in her newly acquired group of high school friends who finds Ma's behaviour every so slightly odd, desperate and potentially dangerous.
So it's another one straight off the never-ending low budget conveyor belt from Blumhouse. Though this one definitely seems to have slipped through anything resembling quality control checks.
The convoluted narrative meanders and is ultimately weak, disorganised and poorly thought out. The film wants to be a revenge thriller, slasher horror and psychodrama all at once with none even remotely convincing.
Its complete lack of focus leads to some really uneven pacing to the point it almost feels like a bunch of random shots thrown together.
Most of the characters are thin with Spencer and Silvers the only ones given anything substantial to work with. Evans and Janney for example - who's characters are meant to be two of the main ones to irk our unstable lead the most - almost seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Ma is just a bad movie. Bereft of originality, cliches abound along with wooden acting and poor editing.
Despite the set-up, for a critique on race-based bullying, it really has nothing at all to say with the screenplay almost as desperate as Ma herself and even a heavyweight performer like Spencer can't save it.
Blumhouse movies are never going to win many Oscars though are usually quirky enough to be a fun watch but a couple of laugh out loud moments of random violence aside - most of which are unintentional - Ma overstays her welcome long before the final credits roll.

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