(US - 2019)
Directed by Tate Taylor. Written by Scotty Landes. Cast: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Allison Janney, Missi Pyle, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Dominic Burgess, Tanyell Waivers, Tate Taylor, Heather Marie Pate, Margaret Eaton, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Matthew Welch, Skyler Joy, Nicole Carpenter. (R, 99 mins)
Octavia Spencer won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 2011's THE HELP and she reunites with that film's director Tate Taylor for MA, a wildly entertaining, hard-R horror outing from Blumhouse. It's refreshing that neither lets their prestigious resumes--Spencer has logged two Oscar nods since, and Taylor went on to direct GET ON UP and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN--keep them from going all-in on this, as MA does a commendable job of emulating the kind of crowd-pleasing, audience-participation genre offering that was commonplace in the '80s. Spencer has a blast here, bringing to mind Isabelle Huppert's performance in this year's earlier "(blank)-from-Hell"'90s throwback GRETA, as well as Kathy Bates' unforgettable turn as Annie Wilkes in MISERY. MA has a shocking and disturbing event at its core, one that has haunted the title character and influenced every decision she's made since, but it never loses sight that its primary function is being a solid summer horror flick. And a surprising one at that, as it gets unexpectedly darker and more deranged as it goes on.
|Obligatory De Palma split diopter shot, as required by law
"Funkytown," or flooring it and mowing someone down with her truck and muttering "Fuckin' cunt" into the rearview mirror while Earth Wind & Fire's "September" blares on her radio, a priceless Octavia Spencer moment that's undoubtedly going viral soon. There probably isn't much room for MA among the summer product rolling off the CGI assembly line, but it's one that will unquestionably enjoy a long life on streaming and cable.