My Cat Persephone Wrote this Review on her Smartphone. It was better than Mine. .
83 Minutes But It Feels So Much Longer
Iris K. Shim
Iris K. Shim
The new “horror” movie Umma (Korean for “Mother,” Pulp Fiction for Thurman) is the latest movie in which the sins of the mother are passed down to the children so they end up all f*cked up until they deal with some personal trauma by the end of the movie and then everything will be okay.
It’s the longest sentence I’ve written this week, just like Umma is one of the longest 80-minute movies I’ve ever seen.
Yes, because I have to achieve a minimum word count and if I have to sit through this f*cking movie then you have to sit through this review just to share the pain, like those ladies in Midsommar.
As stated before, we’ve seen countless mother centered horror movies before, but this one happens to involve Asian people, so at least there’s representation when it comes to mediocre horror movies. #progress
Umma is Ammu spelled backwards!
Umma opens sometime in the past. There’s a little girl crying for her mother. The little girl is trapped in a closet and is screaming to get out. But those plaintive yells are not enough because the little girl did something wrong. Being an Asian person myself, there’s always a good and reasonable reason for an Asian parent to punish an Asian child like locking her in a closet Harry Potter style.
Not to worry, because like Harry Potter, locking this little girl in the closet will no doubt strengthen her and fortify the bond between mother and daughter because it’s sensible to lock a child in a closet for getting a ‘B’ on a test or something.
But then…it’s just a dream.
The woman is all grown up and out of the punishment closet. Her name is Amanda (Sandra Oh- Killing Eve, Hard Candy). Amanda is not her Korean given name. I don’t want to butcher it but it’s pronounced something like Steven Soderbergh. She’s startled awake and glad the nightmare has stopped. She then goes to the basement/storm shelter and cuts off all electricity to her house because that’s a reasonable thing to do.
We fast forward 16 years later.
Amanda now has a teenage daughter Chrissy(Fivel Stewart) and they work on their property together as remarkably successful beekeepers. Amanda is an accountant by trade, but Chrissy really wanted a beehive and they haven’t looked back since. They sell the honey from their bees and according to one of the only white people in the cast, Danny (Dermot Mulroney), business is exploding as he can’t keep the honey off the shelves.
Chrissy wonders if she and her mother can keep up with demand. Amanda says they’ll be fine if they work together like they’ve always done and will always do until the end of time.
Keep in mind they still don’t have electricity and don’t have any friends either. But none of this will come to a head. Chrissy is thinking about going to college but there’s no way she’s telling her mom yet…or ever. She’ll wait until the right moment but since this a movie you can guess there will never be a right moment.
Speaking of right moments, it’s during this one that a car drives towards their property. He’s an Asian man. He tries to talk to Chris as she’s leaving but Chris doesn’t speak Asian.
Secret Asian man arrives. It turns out that Asian Man is Amanda’s Uncle (Tom Yi) and he’s listed in the credits as “Amanda’s Uncle” but we’re just going to call him Adele.
Uncle Adele is here to say that Amanda’s mother (or Umma) passed away some weeks ago but Amanda has been difficult to find because they don’t really have a phone or electricity or the internet.
And, most disgracefully, Amanda changed her name from Korean Bradley Cooper to Amanda. So much shame.
Anyway, Uncle Adele brought a suitcase full of Umma’s most prized possessions and her ashes, also in the suitcase.
Amanda was hoping this day would never come. She’s tried her entire life run away from her Umma’s abusive ways. She’s vowed to be nothing like her Umma.
But if you’ve ever seen a horror movie in which a suitcase full of ashes and a dead person’s belongings are brought back to the object of oppression then you know that even the dead may still have something to say and do to the living.
Amanda may soon realize that not even death can keep her mother from being overly critical or trying to take over…everything, everywhere all at once.
What Works With Umma
- For those of you who like learning novel words, you get to know what Umma means in English. Granted, I’ve written more than once what it means so let this be a hint that you should not see this movie. Other hints will be the low rating and the large “What Doesn’t Work” part of the review
What Doesn't Work With Umma
- Writer/director Iris K. Shim is trying to make a horror movie. Next time, you might want to add some actual scares. More earned jolts. Fewer yawns, especially while I’m trying to drive my car.
- Speaking of scares, there won’t be an attempted fright that you can’t see coming from 3 scenes away. You get the feeling the producers knew this movie wasn’t scary so they added about a half-dozen cheap and obvious jump scares just to keep you awake.
- The normally dependable Sandra Oh isn’t given much of a character to play. Nothing’s wrong with her performance, but as written, Amanda isn’t really given anything to do for about 75 minutes. She’s technically the lead, but Amanda is such a passive character for a good portion of the movie that you have to pay attention to other things to keep you marginally entertained. Too bad there aren’t any.
You Are Not My Mother is also a horror film with “Mother” in the title and is a much better ma-centric movie than Umma. Be glad it’s barely 80 minutes long or that you won’t be operating heavy machinery. Turn this mother down, not out.
Really 1.5 But I Like Killing Eve.
Buy It Here!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Noel Penaflor