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Tate Taylor
Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers
Writing Credits:
Scotty Landes

A lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house, but things start happening that make them question the intention of their host.

Box Office:
$5 million.
Opening Weekend
$18,099,805 on 2808 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 9/3/2019

• “Creating Sue Ann” Featurette
• “Party at Ma’s” Featurette
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer & Previews
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Ma [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 26, 2019)

In a horror environment where supernatural matter dominates, 2019’s Ma presents a more reality-based thriller. When Erica Thompson’s (Juliette Lewis) husband leaves her, she moves back to her Ohio hometown with her teen daughter Maggie (Diana Silvers).

Though she initially struggles to fit in at her new high school, Maggie soon finds herself invited to party with popular Haley (McKaley Miller) and her friends. Though she initially declines, Maggie rethinks her decision and chooses to hang out with her fellow teens.

One complication: the kids want to get drunk but they lack access to booze. To alter this, they go to a local liquor store and ask strangers to buy alcohol for them.

These efforts fail until Maggie meets Sue Ann Ellington (Octavia Spencer). Sue Ann says no at first, but she changes her mind and purchases the booze for the kids.

This comes with unexpected repercussions, as Sue Ann – who soon gains the nickname “Ma” – attaches herself to the kids. Initially, this seems like a good thing, as Ma allows them to use her basement as Party Central whenever they want.

However, the teens quickly discover the strings attached to this, as Ma seems determined to use them as an attempt to recapture her own lost youth. Her obsession with the kids grows and turns into a threat.

If nothing else, Ma earns credibility due to the presence of Spencer. Movies like this don’t usually sport Oscar-winning talent, so she adds depth to the project, as do Lewis and a few other recognizable faces I’ll not mention to leave them as surprises.

I suspect Spencer ended up here because director Tate Taylor helmed 2011’s The Help, the film that brought her fame and that aforementioned Oscar. Whether or not Spencer agreed to appear in Ma for her own reasons or as a favor to Tate remains up for debate.

Given that Spencer usually plays supporting roles, I suspect it’s a mix. While I’m sure she’s happy to get a lead, I doubt she felt all that impressed with the mediocre material at hand.

Not that Ma becomes a total dud, as it boasts some positives. As I alluded earlier, the film breaks from the usual stale supernatural tale to bring us something much more believable.

Psychological thrillers aren’t unknown these days, but they seem to be an endangered species. Even efforts like 2017’s hit Get Out feature supernatural elements, so I’m glad to find one that goes solely with real-world choices.

I also appreciate the subtlety with which the first parts of Ma progress. Although the story hints at Sue Ann’s issues, it doesn’t telegraph them, so the tale builds in a fairly natural manner.

I admit it’s a relief to find a movie that doesn’t beat us over the head with “thrills” miles in advance. We saw the trailers so we know where this path will lead, but at least Ma takes us there in a reasonably subdued way.

That said, even without the trailers, we can already sense this tale won’t end well. After all, no rational middle-aged woman chooses to hang out with teens unless she suffers from some mental concerns, so the thriller elements follow a pretty inevitable route.

The basic narrative and its fairly relaxed manner keep us with Ma for its first half, but eventually, the filmmakers remember it’s 2019 and subtlety doesn’t sell. This means that the movie’s second half lacks the low-key nature of the initial 50 minutes, and logic flies out the window.

While these machinations could become crazier and more off the rails than they do, they still mean Ma loses its center. We get more into Wacko World and disconnect from the fairly realistic psychological drama of the first half.

Still, even with the movie’s flaws, I appreciate its attempts to separate from the usual 2010s horror pack. Ma loses steam as it goes, but at least it brings something different from its peers.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Ma appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a mostly positive presentation.

Overall delineation looked fine, as the movie usually seemed well-defined. Some wider shots could be a little soft, but not to a substantial degree. I saw no jaggies or shimmering, and both edge haloes and print flaws remained absent.

To the surprise of no one, teal and amber dominated the film’s palette. While predictable, the colors seemed well-executed.

Blacks showed good depth, and shadows were fine. Some low-light shots could be a smidgen thick, but not terribly so. All this led to a more than competent presentation.

Similar thoughts accompanied the fairly good DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Ma. This wasn’t exactly an action-packed mix, so one shouldn’t expect constant auditory shenanigans. When appropriate, the soundscape kicked to life well, but much of it focused on ambient information and music.

Audio quality worked fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues.

Music offered good range and impact, and effects followed suit. These elements contributed fine dimensionality, with strong low-end at appropriate times. All of this led to a worthwhile soundtrack.

In addition to an Alternate Ending (2:01), we find 12 Deleted Scenes (11:23). The “Ending” adds an epilogue, one that leaves open room for a sequel. It’s not all that interesting.

As for the “Deleted Scenes”, they tend toward exposition. We see more of Maggie’s introduction to her new town and additions to a few other elements. Nothing important arrives here.

Two brief featurettes follow: Creating Sue Ann (2:50) and Party at Ma’s (3:53). Across these, we hear from producers John Norris and Jason Blum, director Tate Taylor, costume designer Megan Coates, and actors Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Gianni Paolo, Corey Fogelmanis, Dante Brown, and McKaley Miller.

The featurettes look at story/characters, cast and performances, and Taylor’s impact on the production. Though we get a few minor notes, the clips largely follow a promotional path.

The disc opens with ads for The Dead Don’t Die, Us, El Chicano, and Doom: Annihilation. We also get a trailer for Ma.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Ma. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

With a good cast and a slow build, Ma boasts some strengths. It loses its way as it goes, but it still seems above average compared to other modern-day thrillers. The Blu-ray provides generally solid picture and audio along with a minor collection of supplements. Enough about Ma works to bring us an erratic but sporadically engaging tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
2 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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