“MA” Review

Many horror slasher type movies premiere every year (horror fatigue is a thing), but for every bunch of Anabelle sequels and Chucky reboots there are a few original horror films. These differentiate themselves from other more art-house type horror films (such as Get Out and Hereditary) by mainly aiming to be thrilling, and MA succeeds at that from beginning to end.

Octavia Spencer plays Sue Ann, a veterinary woman who is obsessed with fitting in. She had a troubled past in high school and hasn’t been able to overcome it. Diana Silvers plays a teenager named Maggie who is new to town and who is eager to make friends. Juliette Lewis plays Maggie’s mom who has a new job at the local casino. Maggie runs into Sue Ann and asks her to get booze for her and her new group of friends, and Sue Ann realizes this is her chance to belong to a group of friends in the way she had been longing to. Sue Ann starts volunteering to host parties for the kids, which initially seems like a nice gesture but becomes increasingly creepy. Sue Ann asks the kids to call her MA and ends up inserting herself in the group. This is when things get complicated for Maggie and her friends…

Horror films tend to create tension by having characters act in irrational ways, but MA balances this out fairly well. Teenagers do stupid things because they are teenagers, but the movie never forgets they are rational beings and this rids MA of many boring cliches and gives it the chance to do something different. Spencer is so good with her facial expressions that she creates a convincing character out of a not so convincing script. It is a joy to see Spencer given the chance to portray such a creatively vicious character. The script has her do things I didn’t think the movie would dare do.

Unfortunately, despite it being very gripping, MA fails to amount to much more than just a fun time at the movies. The movie uses stereotypes to explain psychotic behaviors and it doesn’t bother to fully flesh out its supporting characters. For a movie that deals with complex topics, it is very superficial when exploring them. It is clear from the start MA isn’t bothered with deep questions, it just wants to be thrilling, and it excels at that. All I know is that I hope Blumhouse keeps producing original content like MA rather than yet another Anabelle sequel.

Grade B
Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Scotty Landes
Main Cast: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis

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