Tate Taylor’s high school horror film is really gruesome but fun nevertheless.




When a group of ditsy teenagers in Ohio try to get an adult to buy liquor for their alcohol-fuelled parties, they hit upon Sue Ann – Ma to her new friends – (Octavia Spencer) who then seems willing to lend them her basement for their booze-ups. She, of course, lives in a remote ‘cabin in the woods’ – we’ve all been there before – while working for the local veterinary surgeon. It doesn’t, however, take her too long to recall that she once dated Ben (Luke Evans), father of Andy (Corey Fogelmanis), in high school where she was also bullied. Ben eventually dumped her for another girl. With Ma carefully planning her revenge, things start to go haywire.


Director and co-author Tate Taylor builds his psychological shocks slowly and surely as we and the kids wonder what the apparently friendly Sue Ann is up to. At first he concentrates on Maggie (Diana Silvers), the new girl in town who, with her mom Erica (Juliette Lewis), has just moved to Ohio. Coincidentally, Erica meets former classmate Ben who also hooks up with Sue Ann, but the encounter ends in tears. Although Sue Ann enjoys hanging out with the kids, something she missed in her own high school days, she subsequently has other secrets to reveal but not before she sets out on an orgy of destruction. Some of the effects are pretty gruelling, particularly when Ma is drugging and abusing the teenagers and at one point literally stitching them up.


Until she gets into her stride, the magnificent Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann is calmness personified and in lesser hands the role would lack gravitas. Juliette Lewis as Erica twitches to good effect, while Diana Silvers as Maggie and Corey Fogelmanis as new squeeze Andy tend to melt into the background with all the other youngsters. Poor Luke Evans as Ben gets the serrated edge of the carving knife as Ma splays him hog-tied, drugged and naked on the bed threatening to sever his manhood. Think Halloween meets Misery...




Cast: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Luke Evans, McKaley Miller, Missi Pyle, Diana Silvers, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown, Allison Janney, Dominic Burgess, Tate Taylor, Tanyell Waivers.


Dir Tate Taylor, Pro Jason Blum, Tate Taylor and John Norris, Screenplay Scotty Landes and Tate Taylor, from a story by Landes, Ph Christina Voros, Pro Des Marc Fisichella, Ed Lucy Donaldson and Jin Lee, Music Gregory Tripi, Costumes Megan Coates.


Blumhouse Productions/Wyolah Films/Hurwitz Creative-Universal Pictures.
99 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 31 May 2019. Cert. 15.