Ma ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Color me totally surprised: went in hoping for a janky horror/comedy, loaded with off-putting humor and an over the top performance from Octavia Spencer as a modern version of the cannibalistic witch from HANSEL & GRETEL, gobbling up the little white children in her area with the promise of free booze instead of candy. Instead, what I got was a janky exploitation movie, loaded with off-putting humor AND racial observations, as Spencer is more akin to Freddy Krueger, complete with a gauzily-lensed backstory that feels yanked straight out of a post-HALLOWEEN Canadian slasher knock off (here's looking at you, PROM NIGHT).

To reveal any more would be doing the potential viewer a total disservice, but if GRETA gave us Isabelle Huppert doing Joan Crawford earlier this year, then MA is Octavia Spencer going full Bette Davis, cackling at the poor white people in her rundown Ohio town who have cruelly made her an outsider looking in since high school. Was truly not ready for how cruel this movie gets in the final reel, totally unafraid to spill over into high camp territory, while everyone is gleefully aware of what sort of trash they're currently appearing in.

Before the movie, I was poking fun at the fact that Tate Taylor - director of THE HELP - was reuniting with Spencer (who won an Oscar with the director for that movie), and about how it was weird that they chose this wonky piece of modern explo to join creative forces on. But MA is really a feature length expounding upon the "eat my shit scene" from that piece of Oscar bait. Maybe this is the movie that they wanted to make all along: a gnarly, mean spirited genre exercise where Octavia is serving up just desserts to those who tormented her in the past. If so, I say keep on down this path, because they're pretty fucking great at it.

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