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Film reviews: Ma

Close encounter: Haley (McKaley Miller) finds herself in a stitch-y situation with Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer)

Ma

(15) ★★☆☆☆

MOM horror is big right now. Stalking in the footsteps of Us, Hereditary and Mother!, Ma is another memorable, mummy-driven scary movie that boasts similarly A-list talent even if it plays more safely inside the genre rules.

When shy survivor girl Maggie (Diana Silvers — all Bambi eyes and a pout) arrives in small-town Ohio with her single mum (Juliette Lewis), Maggie quickly falls in with the wrong crowd. Bullied into asking a stranger to buy her new pals booze, Maggie chooses a nice, motherly, middle-aged lady (Octavia Spencer).

‘Call me “Ma”,’ the stranger beams, not only loading the kids up with illegal alcohol, but suggesting they come and party in her basement rather than hang about the streets. ‘Get home safe, that’s all I care about,’ Ma says. Untruthfully.

A wonderfully warm presence in films like The Help, Hidden Figures and The Shape Of Water, the Oscar-winning Spencer is inspired casting as a manipulative killer, but she’s just too sympathetic.

Allison Janney is the real baddie here as Ma’s bitchy boss. And director Tate Taylor (The Help, The Girl On The Train) is the wrong choice for what’s essentially a teen horror.

This vengeance tale waits too long to bring on the gore — and where are the jump scares? Great concept, shame about the execution. Watch the trailer instead. It’s great.