*note: This review was originally published on Patreon in March
Umma is set in the countryside where Amanda (Sandra Oh) raises her teenage daughter Chris (Fivel Stewart) completely off the grid. Their seemingly idyllic life is turned upside down when the ashes of Amanda’s estranged mother are delivered to the house. You see, Amanda didn’t have the healthiest relationship with her mother and has spent many years living in fear that she will turn into a copy of her. Things become further complicated as Amanda must also come to grips with the fact that her daughter is rapidly growing up and will soon leave home.
I was intrigued by the concept of Umma because my interest in horror as steadily risen over the past year and I was curious to see what kind of horror story this was. The most interesting part of this film is definitely how the story incorporates Korean spiritual beliefs.
Unfortunately, while intriguing, I feel like the concept wasn’t nearly as developed as it could’ve been. The story has some interesting beats, to be sure, but it either needed more horror or more mother/daughter drama to really make it click, and it’s just not there. I know horror films don’t have to explain everything that happens, but I feel like Umma could have benefited from a bit more explanation as to how and why certain things were happening, particularly the ghost-related parts.
That being said, while the story is underdeveloped, I can respect the story they’re trying to tell. At its core, Umma is attempting to relay a powerful message about breaking generational cycles of abuse. Sadly, it’s just an attempt, because if Umma had fully hit the nail on the head then this would’ve been a really great horror film with a good message at the center. But instead, it’s just a decent film, and lacking in the horror department to boot.
While Umma isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, I can’t in good conscience recommend going to see it. Other horror films can tell this story better, and I recommend going to see them instead. You can safely skip Umma.
Let me know what you think about Umma in the comments below and have a great day!
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