The latest prank from the Blumhouse film studio tells of a crazy woman who bombards teens with WhatsApp messages. Although it escalates a little at the end, most of the time it is a film without tension or atmosphere. How the script turned out M.A This is what we reveal in our criticism.
The Plot Summary
Everyone is welcome at Ma. It seems to be a happy coincidence: the lovely Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) lives lonely and alone in a good town in Ohio. New arrival Maggie (Diana Silvers), who has just moved here with her mother (Juliette Lewis), and her friends want to party – but as teenagers they are not yet allowed to buy alcohol. So Sue Ann gets them the material. And also offers her new, young friends her basement as a party location. But there are clear rules in Sue Ann’s house: If you drive, stay sober! No strong language! The upper floors are taboo! And Sue Ann is called “Ma.” Soon Ma’s supposed hospitality turns out to be an obsessive desire for company. What seemed like a teenage dream turns into a horrific nightmare. And Ma’s house goes from being the hottest place in town to becoming a living hell.
Explanation of the Ending
At this point we don’t need to recite the outrageously clever success strategy of the Blumhouse Group again: Everyone now knows that the production company, which primarily releases horror films, lets the filmmaker do its thing for the small money and that even a slight success is enough in the end due to the low costs to import them again. “Ma” is no exception; The horror thriller cost five million US dollars and most of the budget was probably spent on some of the cast members. With Octavia Spencer (“Shape of Water – The Whisper of Water”)Juliette Lewis (“Bad Moms”) and Luke Evans (“Professor Marston & the Wonder Women”) The makers were able to sign several people from Hollywood’s A-league directly. And afterwards they all probably asked themselves what kind of nonsense they had actually been involved in. Director Tate Taylor, who recently ruined the film adaptation of the novel “Girl on the Train” because he apparently didn’t realize that a functioning thriller also requires something like tension, sticks to this zero-line dramaturgy. “Ma” has no highs, no lows, no atmosphere, no surprises. Just nothing.
Ma bombards Maggie (Diana Silvers) and Haley (McKaley Miller) with WhatsApp messages.
Even when you look at the director’s chair, it’s hard to believe Tate Taylor’s total failure; After all, he not only directed “Girl on the Train”, but also the really successful racial drama “The Help” in 2011. But what was already evident in the crime thriller with Emily Blunt now finds memorable perfection in “Ma”: playing with expectations, let alone subverting them or even doing anything that wasn’t already hinted at in the first twenty minutes of a film Tate Taylor doesn’t seem to be able to do anything. Certainly: He can’t do anything about the trailer for “Ma”, which foreshadows a lot. In addition, a not insignificant part of the failure comes at the expense of the screenwriter Scotty Landis, for whom “Ma” is also the feature film debut. Since 2010, Landis has been primarily responsible for writing series episodes. Among other things, “Workaholics” and the uncompromising Sacha Baron Cohen show “Who is America?” With “Ma” you are also occasionally struck by the thought that the concept could have worked in short film form (or in series episode length): a substitute mother who initially appears to be sweet and warm-hearted gradually ticks over and begins to bully innocent teenagers. Inflated to around an hour and a half and completely devoid of any narrative surprise, everything that happens up until the point at which Octavia Spencer is finally able to turn things around feels tedious. And if you ignore a few sudden detours to “their” kids’ school, the final escalation takes almost the entire length of the film.
The last ten minutes – which we of course don’t want to reveal despite the enormous predictability – at least briefly get your pulse racing. The peaks of violence presented here have been shown more drastically in other films, but, as cynical as it sounds: at least something actually happens! Until then, it’s enough for director Tate Taylor to film Scotty Landis’ unimaginative script with visible disinterest and not necessarily visually suitable for the cinema: the kids get to know Ma, Ma becomes strange, bombards them with WhatsApp messages and a parallel storyline The film makes it clear to us very early on that the reasons for her strange behavior and possible thoughts of revenge must lie in her past, or more precisely: her school days. Now, when the whole thing is resolved, one may argue about whether the lady’s reaction is simply disproportionate, or whether one also has some sympathy for the way in which Ma now gains satisfaction in her own unique way because of the event she suffered . However, due to several staging and narrative faux pas, at no point does this result in drama or even tension: On the one hand, the events leading up to the Mas atrocities took place far too long ago for their revenge to make sense. On the other hand, it should be emphasized again: the script negotiates both time levels – the events in the here and now as well as the flashbacks to Ma’s school days – in parallel. And that’s exactly the problem.
Octavia Spencer is the most fun as the titular Ma.
Tate Taylor has no opportunity to draw suspense from the story, or even from the audience’s ignorance. The film answers all questions and any guesswork as to what the creepy Ma could be all about. As soon as there is even a hint of ignorance (or mystery), the author intervenes and gives the audience the answer on a silver platter. “Ma” is a film that is almost impossible to destroy with spoilers because it basically constantly spoils itself. But a good thriller, let alone a horror film, doesn’t emerge from this premise. At least the script lets the characters act in keeping with the genre. When there is suddenly a fire inside a house and the teens trapped in the fire would rather bang on the locked door than simply take the free-standing stairs outside, the makers consciously accept the audience’s laughter. Unfortunately, even the acting stars mentioned at the beginning can no longer save this disaster. Although Octavia Spencer at least shows that she enjoys the role of the crazy psychopath and Luke Evans once again enjoys a typical asshole role, Juliette Lewis is completely wasted as the clueless mother. And among the young newcomers, no one has the opportunity to make a mark with such an outrageous script, whose quality the dialogue naturally adapts to. Not only does no cinema viewer benefit from this, but none of those responsible benefit either.
Conclusion: “Ma” is something like a non-film – a film without tension or atmosphere, which doesn’t reveal any dramaturgy, anticipates possible surprises and then doesn’t even tell a really new story. Failed on every level.
“Ma” can be seen in USA cinemas from May 30th.