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Octavia Spencer Boards Blumhouse Thriller ‘Ma’

The Oscar winner will reteam with ‘The Help’ director Tate Taylor.
Octavia Spencer
By  · Published on February 2nd, 2018

The Oscar winner will reteam with ‘The Help’ director Tate Taylor.

Exciting things are happening in the world of horror. Get Out is nominated for Best Picture; It broke box office records last September; Hereditary was one of the most talked about films at Sundance (and has a new terrifying new trailer). And now, Octavia Spencer has joined a new Blumhouse Productions film called Ma, which Variety describes as a combination of horror film and psychological thriller.

Director Tate Taylor described his excitement at teaming with producer Jason Blum for the film and that he feels this is a fantastic opportunity for both him and Spencer to work in a genre they aren’t known for. While many details are being kept under wraps, Deadline reports that Spencer will play “a lonely woman who befriends a group of teenagers with torturous consequences for the kids.”

Horror fans should be as excited for this as Taylor and Spencer are. Traditionally, horror has too often been seen as nothing but jump scares and unnecessary violence. Fans know this simply isn’t true, but the general public has taken some time to catch up in recognizing the legitimacy, intelligence, and artistic potential of horror. Get Out (also a Blumhouse production) has been a major part of that shift with its four Oscar nominations and universal recognition as one of the best movies of 2017. A new horror/thriller film with Spencer in a role described by Taylor as “the most complex character she’s ever played” could also mark a change in the recognition of horror films and the performances within them.

Credit must also go to Blum and Blumhouse Productions for the work they’ve done in horror. Their films are made with low budgets but a great deal of creative freedom for directors. This allows original ideas to flourish, and audiences have responded to the films. Within the last year, Blumhouse Productions films Get Out, Split, Happy Death Day, and Insidious: The Last Key have all taken home over $100 million at the box office, and they were all made for $10 million or less.

No one who has been paying attention to film in the last year is still able to dismiss horror as cheap scares and fake blood. Horror films, particularly Blumhouse Productions, have made their mark on audiences and awards season, and with the addition of Spencer, an Oscar winner and recent nominee for The Shape of Water, the genre is only picking up momentum.

Luke Evans and Juliette Lewis will also star in the film, which is based on an original script from Workaholics writer Scotty Landes. Production of Ma will begin next week in Mississippi.

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Anna Swanson is a Senior Contributor who hails from Toronto. She can usually be found at the nearest rep screening of a Brian De Palma film.