UMMA (2022) Reviews for Sam Raimi-produced horror movie

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‘A mother’s love never dies’
Umma is a 2022 American horror film about a middle-aged woman whose mother’s remains arrive from Korea and the terror that ensues.

Written and directed by Iris K. Shim. Produced by Zainab Azizi and Sam Raimi. Executive produced by Matt Black, Marcei A. Brown, Peter Luo, James Moran, Sandra Oh, Jeanette Volturno and André Øvredal.

The movie stars Sandra Oh, Dermot Mulroney, Odeya Rush, Fivel Stewart, Tom Yi and MeeWha Alana Lee.

Amanda (Sandra Oh) and her daughter (Fivel Stewart) are living a quiet life beekeeping on an American farm, but when the remains of her estranged mother arrive from Korea, Amanda becomes haunted by the fear of turning into her own mother…



“Umma effectively addresses the generational fears of a woman who tries to do everything to avoid being her mother. Star Sandra Oh turns in another tour-de-force performance showing us why she deserves more theatrical roles as one of Hollywood’s greatest underrated treasures. Fivel Stewart provides a commendable grounded performance to complement Oh’s.” 8/10 Bleeding Cool

“There’s a very intangible quality about Umma. The ideas and core takeaways are easy to grasp, but the execution falls flat. Shim attempts to dovetail Chrissy leaving mom behind with mom finally facing her haunted past but makes that haunting literal with generic haunted house tropes instead. It results in a sparse story with great ideas but not much else.” 2/5 Bloody Disgusting

” …it all plays like a horror melodrama that forgot the horror and omits most of the melodrama. Whether cut to the bone in post-production or intended to be a blink-and-you-miss it feature, Umma is missing many of the core elements that makes a movie, well, a movie […] Well-acted and with its heart in the right place…” Forbes

“Plot elements are often left dangling and the storyline borders on incoherent at times, as if many scenes had been left on the cutting room floor […] There are more than a few scarily arresting moments, such as Amanda’s umma seemingly attempting to drag her daughter with her into her grave, but they never coalesce into a consistent visual style.” The Hollywood Reporter

Umma isn’t scary, but the themes behind it are terrifying as it deals with generational trauma and guilt. Though the cultural references run deep, it’s overstuffed with symbolic imagery that is never fully explained. Though Oh and Stewart give solid performances, the tone and tension of the story ends up being choppy and underwhelming.” 4/10 IGN

“It’s unclear how much of the film’s slip and slide into more soap-y material in its final act is on purpose […] By the time a mythical creature shows up and someone goes all Jack Torrance on Chris’ college applications, not only are all bets off, so is the film’s previously tight tone and clever writing […] Despite its flaws, Umma is an impressive debut for Shim…” C+ IndieWire

Umma shows that horror remains an effective space to engage with heftier topics. While cultural specifics may differ, the weight of parental expectations that instill a sense of duty and generate guilt is familiar, particularly for children of immigrants. Painting parents as supernatural monsters is one way to address how monstrous and lasting that can be.” Los Angeles Times

“Shim handles the film’s grab bag of individual jump scares and creepy sight gags well, but without conveying much tangible sense of overall peril or threat, these scenes start to feel almost academic. Oh aces her leading role with customary aplomb, and Stewart makes for a game scene partner, but Shim’s economical-to-a-fault screenplay rarely allows them enough downtime to fully flesh out their characters.” Variety

“Modern horror gets flak for leaning too far into grief and trauma as a justification for its scares, and Umma leans a little too hard on both of these without going particularly deep. Amanda is haunted by her mother’s presence long before her remains show up, so the escalation often feels arbitrary. The film’s climax, too, is easily predicted (by the audience) and overcome (by the characters).” The Wrap

Umma was released theatrically in the USA by Sony Pictures Entertainment on March 18th 2022. Blu-ray and DVD releases are scheduled for May 24, 2022.

Production companies:
Catchlight Studios
Raimi Productions
Stage 6 Films
Starlight Media

Technical details:
1 hour 23 minutes


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