Scotty Landes and Tate Taylor
Story by Scotty Landes
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Corey Fogelmanis, Luke Evans
Budget $5M Box Office $61.1M
IMDb 5.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes 55% Metacritic NO DATA IndieWire 2/5
I wanted to watch this because it’s listed as a psychological thriller and from the general description that was on the cable summary, it reminded me of a couple of true crime cases I had heard about.
The basic premise is this: A middle aged woman named Sue Ann works as a vet tech in the local vet clinic in a small town where she grew up. Needless to say, she’s a quiet woman with a soft, loving smile and that genuine church lady love kind of voice that you just can’t walk away from, ya know? She just seems like such a sweet gal.
Flash to our other characters: A group of misguided teenagers (Maggie, new in town and new to school, Haley, Darrell, Chaz and Andy, who ends up dating Maggie) always looking for someone to buy their liquor and a place to party. Now, I never had to do this because I hung out with slightly older kids and they always had older siblings or parents even that would buy us alcohol and let us drink at their house (don’t OMG me people, this was a different time!). However, these kids know the struggle I don’t, so what they have to do is stand outside the liquor store and ask random strangers to buy their goods. (Like really, does that shit eve work? Do adults really do that? How do you know these kids aren’t plants by the cops? Moving on…)
So, that’s how they meet Sue Ann. She’s walking her dog and passes by the store and Maggie, the newest addition to the group because she’s the new girl at school, is standing outside and does the approach and ask on Sue Ann. And it works. Then Sue Ann becomes their regular hook up. But even more so, she offers up her basement as their party pad so they aren’t drinking and doing drugs out in the open. They’ll be safe at her house.
[I have to interject here with some logic from a cop’s kid. Okay, even at seventeen years old, if some random older woman who was willing to break the law to buy me and my friends alcohol wanted all of us to come party at her house which is not in the suburbs, but off in the woods, my answer would not only have been no, it would have been hell no. I would have NEVER gone from point A to point B with a stranger to a basement with the intention of getting all trashed and drugged and liquored up. Ummm hello??? Where’s those brain cells???? Moving on…again…]
So, being teenagers, they think this is the PERFECT setup and are all in. And at first, it’s great. They party, they get drunk, they get high. Sue Ann has established the rules, which are: Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, Never go upstairs EVER and Call her Ma. So, they have fun, Ma has fun. And things are raging like a techno club for a while.
But then, as it always does, real life sets in and these kids have to go to school and do homework, extracurricular activities, sports, spend time with their families. And eventually, they get kind of tired of Ma always wanting to be around. See, she’s strangely sort of just inserted herself right in the middle of their “circle” (you know how it is in school), and it makes the kids uncomfortable. Not to mention that things start getting weird at Ma’s house and some people’s belongings start going missing, things become fuzzy and hazy and questions start being raised.
What these kids don’t know is that Ma grew up with their parents. And that for some people, high school never ends.
I have to be honest, when I first watched this movie and I got through the whole thing, originally, I felt a little dejected. But after thinking on it for a couple of days, I really think this is truly the kind of movie that will grow on you. There are some things in it that have just stuck with me, just kind of interesting, I think. I don’t want to tell you what they are because I don’t want to spoil the movie. But, after rethinking my original reaction, I think I reacted harshly.
Octavia Spencer is great in this movie. We always see her in this role of love and care and support, like the loving mother or the supportive caretaker or the strong supportive female friend, etc. But in this film, she really comes out of her shell and pulls a complete switch on us. This is a side of Spencer that we have not seen, but that she was especially good at showing. I give her fantastic praise for her performance in this film. She creeped me the hell out, that’s for sure.
So, DO give this film a chance. And if you feel a little, say, shortchanged at the end, do what I did and go over the film in your head a bit and sit on it. It’s not for gore. It’s psychological. Remember that and I think you’ll enjoy the film much, much more.