Umma – Film Review
Directed by: Iris K. Shim
Starring: Sandra Oh, Fivel Stewart, MeeWha Alana Lee, Tom Yi, Odeya Rush, Dermot Mulroney
In cinemas March 25th
The title means mum in Korean and this is being released in time for mother’s day but don’t mistake it for some fluffy mother and daughter fare. This supernatural drama sees Sandra Oh play Korean immigrant Amanda who, along with her daughter Chris (Stewart) lives on a rural farm without modern technology. They spend their days raising chickens and living an uncomplicated life. That is until Amanda receives the cremated ashes of her deceased estranged mother from her birth country. It awakens long-repressed emotions in her, but more concerningly it also unleashes a vicious spirit intent on taking her body for itself.
Horror Maestro Sam Raimi is one of the producers here which is quite a seal of approval. Unfortunately, writer and director Shim has created a cliché riddled horror by numbers. It is obvious that she wanted to explore the complexities of mother/daughter relationships but she fails miserably. This is horror by numbers that employs plenty of genre tropes but not much in the way of originality.
Cliches and tropes are usually fine when it comes to supernatural fare, but when you have employed an actress of Oh’s calibre you have the opportunity to go much deeper with your themes and ideas. Unfortunately, Shim wasted this opportunity. Oh gives an impressive performance despite the weak material and she really is the glue that holds this together.
Ultimately though, this screams B movie. Without the presence of stars like Oh and Mulroney (who is also wasted) this would probably have gone straight to a streaming service. It’s incredibly predictable, doesn’t add anything new to the genre and never really takes off. At a mere 83 minutes, it doesn’t outstay its welcome and makes few demands of its audience. In the grand scheme of things though it is very disappointing and could have been so much better.