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Ma is a 2019 American psychological horror film directed by Tate Taylor and written by Scotty Landes. It stars Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Corey Fogelmanis and Luke Evans, and follows a group of teenagers who befriend a lonely middle-aged woman who allows them to party in her basement, and find themselves being terrorized by her.[2] The film was produced by Jason Blum, through his Blumhouse Productions company, along with Taylor and John Norris.[3]

Ma Official Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTate Taylor
Produced by
Screenplay byScotty Landes
Music byGregory Tripi
CinematographyChristina Voros
Edited by
  • Lucy Donaldson
  • Jin Lee
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • May 31, 2019 (2019-05-31) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[1]
Box office$60.6 million[1]

Ma was released in the United States on May 31, 2019, by Universal Pictures. It has grossed $60.6 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised Spencer's performance but criticized the teenage characters and said the film did not take full advantage of its premise.



Teenager Maggie Thompson moves with her mother Erica to her Ohio hometown after Erica’s husband leaves her. At high school, Maggie befriends Andy Hawkins, Haley, Chaz, and Darrell, who invite her to drink with them. They convince Sue Ann Ellington, a veterinary technician, to help them buy alcohol. Sue Ann anonymously reports the teens' activities, although they are let go due to the officer's history with Andy's father, Ben. The next day, Sue Ann invites the teens to drink in her basement and many people from school show up at her house to party, making Sue Ann popular among the students.

However, her hospitality starts to annoy the group as she continuously harasses them to engage in various activities with her. Maggie and Haley suspect that she stole jewelry from them during the parties so they go to her house to investigate. They are surprised by Genie, Sue Ann's daughter from a failed marriage whom Maggie believed to be a wheelchair user, though she is clearly able-bodied. Genie warns them as Sue Ann arrives home, and they narrowly escape.

Ben warns Sue Ann to stay away from his son, and it is revealed in a flashback that Sue Ann, who had a crush on Ben in high school, performed fellatio on him in a closet. However, it is revealed once she leaves the closet that she has actually done it on another young boy without knowing. Ben had the entire school, including a young Erica and Mercedes, his current girlfriend, witness the event, causing Sue Ann humiliation.

An increasingly unstable Sue Ann runs over Mercedes with her car, killing her. She later draws blood from Maggie's dog, Louie, and lures Ben to the house, knocking him out. Ben wakes up trapped in her bed, where Sue Ann pumps Louie's blood into his body and kills him. The next day, the group goes to her house for Chaz's birthday, and Maggie rushes to rescue them. When she arrives, she discovers her friends have been drugged and finds Ben's body before Sue Ann knocks her unconscious.

Maggie awakens trapped in the basement. Sue Ann irons Chaz's stomach, sews Haley's mouth shut and paints Darrell's face white. Andy awakens and Sue Ann coaxes him into kissing her before stabbing him. An officer arrives at the door and Sue Ann warns Maggie to stay quiet. Maggie screams for help, causing Sue Ann to shoot the officer dead. Afterward, she gathers the four friends around the couch with her and makes Maggie take a photo of them together. She then attempts to hang Maggie before Genie intervenes and knocks Sue Ann unconscious, inadvertently creating a fire in the process. Erica arrives in time to rescue Maggie and her friends. However, Sue Ann awakens and attempts to throw Genie into the fire, blaming Erica for not stopping Ben. Maggie stabs Sue Ann, freeing Genie. As the others escape, Sue Ann, accepting her fate, walks upstairs as the house burns around her and lies down next to Ben's body.


  • Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann "Ma" Ellington
    • Kyanna Simone Simpson as young Sue Ann
  • Diana Silvers as Maggie Thompson
  • Juliette Lewis as Erica Thompson
    • Teagan Edsell as young Erica
  • Luke Evans as Ben Hawkins
    • Andrew Matthew Welch as young Ben
  • Corey Fogelmanis as Andy Hawkins
  • McKaley Miller as Haley, Maggie's friend.
  • Gianni Paolo as Chaz, Maggie's friend.
  • Dante Brown as Darrell, Maggie's friend.
  • Missi Pyle as Mercedes, Ben's girlfriend.
    • Nicole Carpenter as young Mercedes
  • Tanyell Waivers as Genie Ellington
  • Allison Janney as Dr. Brooks, Sue Ann's boss.
  • Dominic Burgess as Stu, Erica's co-worker.
  • Heather Marie Pate as Ashley
  • Tate Taylor as Officer Grainger
  • Victor Turpin as Pietro Kramer
  • Margaret Fegan as Stephanie



Ma came together as a result of Tate Taylor's desire to direct a film about "something fucked up," and a conversation he had with Octavia Spencer in which she told him that she was "sick of only being offered the same role and never getting to be a lead."[4] The two are longtime friends, having worked together in films such as The Help and Get on Up.[4] Jason Blum and Taylor, who have been friends for a few years, knew each other socially.[5]

Taylor went to Blum's office, reiterating,

"I want to do something really fucked up."[5]

He read Scotty Landes' script of the film, which Blumhouse Productions had bought the day before.[5] Although the original draft was written with a white woman in the title role, Taylor immediately thought about Spencer.[4] He went out to the hall, called Spencer, and asked her if she would like to be in a horror film;[5] without reading the script, Spencer boarded the project.[5]

There was no backstory for the title character in the original script, which made her "a complete monster that no audience member could sympathize with."[4] The filmmakers made it a priority to come up with an authentic backstory for the role.[4]


Principal photography on the film started in February 2018.[6] Filming took place in Mississippi,[7] with parts shot in Natchez,[8] and wrapped in March 2018.[9]


Ma was released on May 31, 2019.[10] The first trailer was released on February 13, 2019.[11]

Home mediaEdit

Ma is set to be released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 3, 2019.


Box officeEdit

Ma grossed $45.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $14.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $60.6 million, against a production budget of $5 million.[1]

In the United States and Canada, Ma was released alongside Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Rocketman, and was projected to gross around $20 million in its opening weekend.[12] The film made $7.2 million on its first day, including $1.4 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $18.4 million, finishing fourth at the box office.[13] The film made $7.8 million in its second weekend (dropping 54% and finishing in seventh), and then made $3.7 million in its third weekend.[14][15]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 54% based on 186 reviews, with an average rating of 5.61/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Octavia Spencer's performance overpowers many of Ma's flaws, but uneven pacing and a labored story keep this thriller from fully realizing its unhinged potential."[16] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 2.5 out of 5 stars.[13]

Benjamin Lee of The Guardian gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, describing it as "a nasty yet surprisingly empathetic slab of exploitation with more than just carnage on its mind."[18] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly rated the film a grade of B, specifying, "Even as the story descends into full bloody camp at its crescendo, Spencer holds the more ludicrous plot threads together."[19] Owen Glieberman of Variety wrote, "Spencer, a chameleon of an actress, does mood swings in Ma that leave us entertainingly off guard."[20] Jude Dry of IndieWire gave the film a grade of C, stating that "it takes an amusing premise, reduces it to its most basic parts, then weighs it down with silly scare tactics,"[21] while John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "It quickly spins its shaky premise off into an unconvincing study of emotional need and an even harder-to-believe revenge thriller."[22]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
2019 Saturn Awards Best Actress Octavia Spencer Pending [23]
Best Thriller Film Ma Pending


  1. ^ a b c "Ma (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  2. ^ Miska, Brad (February 1, 2018). "'Shape of Water's Octavia Spencer Starring In 'Help' Director's 'Ma'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  3. ^ Romano, Nick (February 1, 2018). "Octavia Spencer and The Help director reunite for psychological thriller". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Sharf, Zack (May 30, 2019). "Octavia Spencer Got Pitched 'Ma' and Asked: 'Am I the Black Person Who Gets Killed First?'". IndieWire. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Cea, Max (May 30, 2019). "The Director of Ma Will Not Let You Pee". GQ. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  6. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (February 1, 2018). "Octavia Spencer To Star In Blumhouse Thriller 'Ma'; Reteam With Tate Taylor". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  7. ^ Lang, Brent (February 1, 2018). "Octavia Spencer to Reunite With 'The Help' Director Tate Taylor on Blumhouse's 'Ma' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  8. ^ Romano, Nick (February 1, 2018). "Octavia Spencer and The Help director reunite for psychological thriller". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  9. ^ Spencer, Octavia (March 16, 2018). "I can't let this week end without acknowledging the wrap of my first starring role in Blumhouse's horror thriller, #MA". Instagram. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  10. ^ Hipes, Patrick (February 12, 2019). "Tate Taylor's Blumhouse Thriller 'Ma' Gets Summer Release Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  11. ^ MAMovie [@MAmovie] (February 13, 2019). "Welcome to MA's. From the producers of Get Out and Happy Death Day, Octavia Spencer stars in #MAmovie - in theaters May 31. Watch the trailer." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  12. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 16, 2019). "'Secret Life Of Pets 2' To Have Upper Paw Over 'Dark Phoenix' – Early B.O. Projections". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Anthony D'Alessandro (June 1, 2019). "'Godzilla: King' Of The B.O. With $51M+, 'Rocketman' Still Standing With $23M+, 'Ma' At $18M+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  14. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 9, 2019). "'Secret Life Of Pets 2' Seeing $47M+, But 'Dark Phoenix' Up In Smoke With $32M+ In Lowest Opening For 'X-Men' Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  15. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 16, 2019). "'Men In Black: International' Domestic Passport Revoked With $26M Opening, 'Shaft' Drops His Gun With $7M+: Summer Sequelitis, Here We Go Again". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  16. ^ "Ma (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  17. ^ "Ma (2019) reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  18. ^ Lee, Benjamin (May 29, 2019). "Ma review – Octavia Spencer kills it in creepy exploitation thriller". The Guardian. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  19. ^ Greenblatt, Leah (May 29, 2019). "Octavia Spencer makes the camp high-school horror of Ma worth watching: EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  20. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (May 29, 2019). "Film Review: Octavia Spencer in 'Ma'". Variety. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  21. ^ Dry, Jude (May 29, 2019). "'Ma' Review: Octavia Spencer Is Hilarious As a Teen-Obsessed Veterinarian". IndieWire. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  22. ^ DeFore, John (May 29, 2019). "'Ma': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  23. ^ Hammond, Pete (July 15, 2019). "'Avengers: Endgame', 'Game Of Thrones' Lead Saturn Award Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 15, 2019.

External linksEdit