MA – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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The cinematic efforts of men — here, director Tate Taylor (The Girl on the Train) and screenwriter Scotty Landes, a TV writer making his feature debut — to delve into the inner lives of women continue to fail abysmally, in particularly horrific manner with Ma, a disgraceful waste of the brilliant Octavia Spencer. She deserves so much better than this bargain-bin cockadoodie shadow of a pseudo-Misery wannabe. I console myself with the fact that she was probably at least paid well.

In a small American town, where everyone knows everybody’s business except when convenient to the plot that they don’t, lonely Sue Ann (Spencer) insinuates herself into the lives of local high-schoolers by buying them booze and letting them use her basement as a party den. And then she rapidly turns on these kids in dumb, schlocky ways that anyone who has seen a horror movie before would have clocked the moment she showed them into her serial-killer-lair basement. Except it all enjoys so little psychological rationale on Sue Ann’s part that I guess that’s supposed to make her behavior “surprising” and “suspenseful”? Continue reading…

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).