‘MA’ isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster and it’s not going to be an indie awards show darling, but it is the kind of movie you could use to terrorize your friends. Octavia Spencer plays “Sue-Anne”, a veterinarian with a penchant for getting lost in her own thoughts. What we discover as the film goes on is that Sue-Anne is a layered character dealing with the traumatic events of her past. It’s something so deeply disturbing, you wish they’d spent more time on it. But the crux of her character unfolds throughout the film as you watch her go from quiet and unassuming to aggressive and obsessed.
Where ‘MA’ succeeds is in building the tension, and making 14-year-old you squirm in your seat. There are so many scenes of clear questionable behavior of Spencer’s character when she’s actively surrounding herself with minors, that would draw a red flag right away in any parent’s mind. She buys the kids alcohol, parties with them in her basement, and keeps getting new things to keep their affection, so they keep coming back. It’s typical stalker behavior, that one would notice almost immediately.
But ‘MA’ has its failings as it acts somewhat as a cautionary tale to youngsters who would be reckless, although I doubt you’ll end up being stalked and maimed by a psychotic, traumatized individual, but you get the point (Don’t drink and drive, kids). And also the film fails to deliver the substance behind Sue-Anne’s actions. Yes, there are flashbacks to the initial event that scarred her for life, but so many other points in the film fail to connect to the overarching plot.
It hurts the overall film because the character is so good, and so well played that the possibility of deepening the story could’ve existed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t turn out that way.
True, the film was marketed as a suspense thriller, but fans of traditional horror will be bored with the film’s lack of bloodlust. It’s kill count is actually pretty small, and when Sue-Anne does eventually get her revenge, it ends all too quickly.
But that’s not to say ‘MA’ doesn’t have its moments. The film has genuinely good humor mixed with some of the most uncomfortable comments ever made to young people. The film is worth seeing with friends, just to see the looks on their faces. And while the buildup to the final climax may actually be better than the finale itself, you’re bound to enjoy the ride nonetheless.