Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Well hello everyone. How are you all? You’re such a great bunch that I think I’m going to invite you all to a party in my basement, but, don’t tell anyone, it’ll be our little secret. What? It’ll just be you and me, in a basement…I’ll serve alcohol. Wait, where are you all going? I haven’t laced it with anything and it’s not like I’m going to steal your shit and then mutilate you.
See, if I try that, it doesn’t work, but that’s pretty much the premise of Ma. Sure, I look more like the result of a cross-breeding program between Shrek and Gimli, so I guess it goes to show that without the right cast, there was no way this film would work. It’s a good job that rather than someone like me in the lead role, we get Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water) absolutely nailing the role of Sue Ann, or as she prefers to be called; Ma.
Ma comes from Blumhouse Productions (The Purge, Paranormal Activity) and is directed by Tate Taylor (The Girl on the Train) and written by Scotty Landes (Ballmastrz 9009). The movie tells of Erica (Juliette Lewis – From Dusk till Dawn) and her daughter Maggie (Diana Silvers – Glass) who have just moved to Erica’s home town in Ohio.
They both have to contend with things such as new jobs and a new school and just generally trying to find their place and get settled, but they soon find their feet and start meeting friends both old and new.
Maggie’s new friends are much nicer than Erica’s though, especially Erica’s old school pal, Mercedes, (Missi Pyle – Caretakers) who is just a drunken bimbo and one of those people that you would go out of your way to avoid just so you don’t have to listen to her intoxicated bullshit. That is unless you’re Ben (Luke Evans – Dracula Untold) where I guess the in-car blowjobs are reason enough to tolerate her drunkenness.
Maggie’s friends invite her to hang out with them on Friday night and as Maggie has taken a liking to a boy named Andy (Corey Fogelmanis – Girl Meets World) she gladly joins the group. However, their evening seems to consist of hanging around outside the local store trying to get someone to buy them some alcohol, something they can’t do themselves as they are underage. Naturally, everyone refuses whenever the group approaches them to buy that precious booze. That is, until kindly looking Sue Ann passes their way. Sue Ann agrees to help the group and takes their money and makes the purchase so that the kids can head out to have a drink. What a nice lady.
Well actually, no. She’s not as nice as she first appeared to be. Now, I’m not going into anything about underage drinking as I’m as guilty of partaking in that as the next man, but, Sue Ann, after providing for the group, promptly heads home and looks them up on Facebook. She then finds out who Andy’s father is, and promptly makes an anonymous phone call to report them and as his father is Ben and the phone call is disturbing that in-car blowjob I mentioned, he’s understandably annoyed. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Ratting people out and cockblocking? Sue Ann is not such a nice lady after all.
The group have no idea that Sue Ann ratted them out and when they see her the next night, she buys them their booze and rather than have them hang out at a local area of old ruins known as The rock Pile, she instead, invites them over to hang out in her basement so that they have somewhere to go. That way, they’re not going to get in any trouble or be caught out somewhere drinking alcohol and smoking weed. And the group agrees.
So now they have the perfect place to just hang out, or to throw birthday parties and before you know it, all the kids are hanging out at Ma’s place. Ma’s only rules are, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain and don’t go upstairs.
It’s not long though until Maggie starts to feel uneasy with Sue Ann’s constant neediness, with the over-familiarity starting to more and more, resemble harassment.
As the story progresses we get to see just how unstable Sue Ann is and that due to an event from her childhood, she’s seeking not just acceptance, but also revenge.
This was a pretty good film with Octavia Spencer putting in a great performance and handling the job of going from kindly lady to crazy psychopath very well indeed. It helps that there is a natural progression to her character and that the slide into deeper insanity is a gradual affair so that it doesn’t feel out of place when it inevitably culminates in violence. She does a great job of portraying a character that is only just keeping her rage in check but also letting the audience know that there is something dark bubbling just beneath the surface, so that when that darkness does emerge, it all makes sense within the story.
The plot might be fairly predictable at times, but that doesn’t really matter as the tight script and great performances carry the proceedings well, with Sue Ann…sorry, Ma, being a great villain that comes across as sympathetic and also as someone struggling with their mental state. Actually, the kids are the villains here. Not just the ones from Sue Ann’s past but also Maggie and her friends. If they weren’t drinking underage, then none of this might have happened. So let that be a lesson to you kids.
Now, who wants to hang out in my basement?