In the ten minutes or so before Jordan Peele’s Us began, I expected a bunch of horror film previews. And I got them: the Ring-like ghost with straggly hair reaching out from behind the bathtub. The wholesome family moving into a new haunted (unbeknownst to them) house. Exorcisms. Jump cuts. All that jazz.
I did not, however, expect Ma. The two-minute, 30-second trailer shook me to my core. It tells the story of a group of teens in some suburban wasteland who want alcohol and a place to drink it so desperately that they find themselves partying in a strange middle-aged woman’s (played by Octavia Spencer) basement. She tells them to call her Ma and enjoy themselves with one caveat: Do not go upstairs. Well, this haven of youthful partying takes a turn for the worst when Ma is revealed to be a controlling, infiltrating (maybe murderous?) stalker.
Why was it so damn scary? Well, I’ve thought about this at length, and broken it down for you (aka for me). Here is, apparently, what scares me more than anything else.
1. Evil Octavia Spencer
There is something utterly unnerving about seeing a beloved actress, the one you’re always rooting for—the one who did her darnedest to help her friend run off with a fish for God’s sake!—turn sinister.
2. Evil Octavia Spencer’s Haircut
This bowl cut catastrophe is eerily similar to one of the spookiest characters of all time, Javier Bardem’s Chigurh of No Country for Old Men. If the Coen brothers taught me anything, it’s to be weary of a stranger with a bowl cut.
Teens, specifically movie teens, are frightening. They will do anything for their most primal desires: sex and alcohol. They will ignore the warning signs. They will ignore logic. In this case, they will grind (are the kids still using that word?) in Ma’s basement with other teens as Ma watches. They wonder if “Ma’s acting weird?” YES. YES, MA IS ACTING WEIRD. She is a grown adult woman who wants teens to hang at her house. THIS IS WEIRD, PEOPLE. Ugh, teens frighten me.
4. Sewing Someone’s Lips Shut
Yeah, so at some point, Ma clearly loses her sh*t and sews one of the teen’s lips shut? Cut to the wide shot and her whole couch is filled with unconscious teens who’ve been tampered with in a horrific tableau.
5. Evil Octavia Spencer’s Newsboy Cap
What’s scarier than a grown adult woman dancing with a bunch of teens in her basement? That same grown adult woman wearing a maroon newsboy cap that matches her maroon top a little too perfectly. The kids should’ve gotten the hell out of that basement as soon as they saw that outfit.
Anyways, I will not be seeing this film. (But I will need someone to tell me what happens in it.)