Spencer has starred in many different kind of films over the years — from comedies like Dinner for Schmucks to serious dramas like Fruitvale Station. However, prior to Ma, she had never really been in horror movies, but the project proved to be a match made in heaven. Once you watch her deranged character in this psychological horror, you’ll want to see her in more like it.
Ma starts out innocently enough: A group of teenagers ask Sue Ann (Spencer) to buy alcohol for them. She reports the teens to the police, but then invites them to party in her basement so that they won’t run into trouble from the cops. The teens quickly form a bond with her, who insists they call her “Ma.” It’s all fun and games at first, but Ma gradually becomes more unhinged as time goes on. The audience then learns some dark secrets about Ma’s past, and it becomes abundantly clear why she’s obsessing over these teens. You’ll soon find yourself questioning whether the kids are going to make it out of Ma’s clutches alive.
Ma owes a debt to great horror-thrillers of the past like Misery, and you can definitely see how Kathy Bates’ Annie Wilkes influenced the character of Ma. The film also bears some resemblances to more modern thrillers like Greta and Run, which are other flicks that see various women go off the rails to torture their respective protagonists.
Overall, Ma gives audiences the perfect chance to get a glimpse at a side of Octavia Spencer they’ve never seen before. You can watch Ma on HBO Max now, but be prepared to squirm in your seat a little bit.