A lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house. Just when the kids think their luck couldn’t get any better, things start happening that make them question the intention of their host. – (Source)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61% (Critics) / 68% (Audience)
MetaScore: 53 – mixed or average reviews
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Written By: Scotty Landes
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans
Studio: Universal Pictures
Octavia Spencer is a national treasure. This was an undisputed fact long before she made MA but with the performance she gave in MA it just need reconfirming. Spencer took what on paper seemed like it should have been an over-the-top caricature of role and added so many dimensions to the demented Sue Ann. Thanks to Spencer’s performance Sue Ann was every bit of the crazy person the character’s behavior showed her to be but she also imbued so much humor and pathos into the part that you couldn’t just outright despise Sue Ann no matter what horrible things she did.
In Spencer’s hands all of the pain and loneliness that made up the sum of Sue Ann’s existence became visible in how she desperately and pathetically sought out the approval of a bunch of self-absorbed teenagers or how the scars from her own mistreatment as a teen were always so evident on her face. And she also made sure that you saw the darkness that was always bubbling under the surface of that cheery mask that Sue Ann wore. To sum it up Octavia Spencer is awesome and you could see that she was having the time of her life playing this role.
I also want to give a shout out to Tate Taylor for directing this movie because it is not the type of film you would expect from the guy who made THE HELP. I mean this is a Blumhouse horror movie! And because Taylor signed on it made it possible for him to get acting alums from his previous movies to also sign on in the form of Spencer, Missi Pyle and Allison Janney.
Man, there were so many moments in this movie where the audience was expected to suspend disbelief or just throw logic completely out of the window. One of the most egregious was the idea that in this tiny town all of these people who went to high school together and never left town would not run into one another for over 15 years. And to make sure that ludicrous notion was intact the audience was supposed to buy that, in this town that seemingly didn’t even have a mall for the kids to hang out at (they instead had to opt for a rock quarry), there were two veterinarians.
Also the idea that Sue Ann just snapped once she ran into the son of her high school crush/tormentor was a bit farfetched too. Sure they made it clear that she was off her rocker even before that (as evidenced by the extremely disturbing relationship she had with her own teenage daughter) but meeting that specific kid was the thing that triggered her revenge fueled descent into violent madness and that never felt true at all.
I really hated every one of the group of kids that Sue Ann become obsessed with. Aside from the fact they were barely fleshed out archetypes they were unlikable as all hell. I was rooting for Sue Ann to inflict as much harm on them as she possibly could.
I was not a fan of the way the movie ended either mainly because it was a bit too final for me. I loved me some wacky Sue Ann and I was hoping for a more open-ended close for MA that left the option available for a sequel just in case all the right parties were interested.
Final Verdict: Octavia Spencer’s performance takes what would be a pretty run of the mill psychological horror/thriller movie and elevates it to the point that it becomes an immensely enjoyable way to spend 110 minutes.