Is Ma a revenge flick like Taken or Cold Pursuit, or is it a slasher film like Saw? Is it about vengeance or lust, and does it matter whether this obsession has a category or not?
In director Tate Taylor’s weird thriller-horror-slasher flick, Octavia Spencer plays Sue Ann “Ma” Ellington, a woman who gets twisted with a group of teenagers in her own Ohio hometown. Five teenagers seeking a place to drink without getting busted end up in the clutches of Spencer’s Ma, drinking freely in her home. But she has other plans – plans tied to age-old hurt – that will alter their fate and the future of their friendship.
At times brutal – gross-out challenging really – Ma uses some up-and-coming young people and the likes of Luke Evans, Juliette Lewis, and Allison Janney. The blending of the old and the young revolves around some “sins of the fathers” and such, but the darkness of Ma goes back and forth between straight horror absurdity and vengeance the audience might actually show some sympathy for. That is, until Ma becomes so depraved that there’s just no excuse.