PLOT: Amanda and her daughter stay a quiet life on an American farm, however when the stays of her mom arrive from Korea, Amanda turns into haunted by the worry of turning into her personal mom.
REVIEW: Umma might be greatest described as a squandered alternative. There may be a good suggestion in author/director Iris Ok. Shim’s function movie debut but it surely doesn’t fairly come collectively. The movie doesn’t actually work as a horror film nor as a psychological drama. Shim makes an attempt to navigate each avenues however finish end result could be very flat. It’s a disgrace as a result of Shim is aided by a high notch exhibiting from Sandra Oh however even her greatest efforts can’t save this misfire.
Amanda (Sandra Oh) works as a beekeeper whereas dwelling off-the-grid together with her daughter, Chris (Fivel Stewart). Sooner or later, Amanda’s uncle (Tom Yi) arrives with the stays of her umma (mom, in Korean) whom she had been estranged from for years. One thing occurred between Amanda and her mom years in the past that led to that estrangement and to Amanda’s aversion to electrical energy. Quickly she all of a sudden begins seeing apparitions of her mom as she regularly confronts her previous trauma.
The irritating factor about Umma is that there’s a darker and profound film lurking beneath the floor. Shim presents plenty of themes that may very well be engaging to discover however by no means follows by way of with them. The connection between Amanda isn’t explored sufficient to justify the “horror” that comes from her mom’s stays being delivered to her. It additionally doesn’t assist that the important thing exposition about what traumatic occasion occurred between the 2 is withheld till the tip. The movie merely treads water as Amanda’s mom haunts her time and again with no actual justification for the viewers. Ultimately, the haunting turns into repetitive and the expertise lacks actual thrills or chills to maintain you invested.
The connection between Amanda and her personal daughter can also be squandered. There may’ve been a very good alternative to discover parallels between their relationship and Amanda’s relationship together with her personal mother however they by no means come to fruition. Sandra Oh and Fivel Stewart do overcome the problems of the screenplay to forge admirable performances however you may inform they’re working with a narrative that’s severely undercooked. It’s a credit score to them that do make one thing out of nothing a lot in any respect.
Even at a slim 83 minutes, the movie additionally options subplots that don’t quantity to a lot of something. One includes a blossoming friendship between Chris and River (Odeya Rush), the daughter of Amanda’s pleasant neighbor, Danny (Dermot Mulroney). The scenes are principally contrived they usually don’t do a lot to maneuver the narrative ahead. Extra time may very well be spent on the mom/daugher relationship and it makes these scenes really feel like filler. It’s nearly as if Shim doesn’t notice what probably the most fascinating a part of the story is.
The movie’s third act does decide issues up a bit but it surely additionally feels too rushed as Shim appears too afraid to actually dig deep into Amanda’s emotional ache. Sandra Oh nearly makes us consider in Amanda’s character arc because of her efficiency however, ultimately, it’s slightly exhausting to consider. The movie may’ve been grounded in additional emotional depth if we acquired the sense that Amanda was actually going by way of an emotional journey.
Stylistically, the movie is on level and Shim does toy with some spectacular photographs that does threaten to make issues a bit extra fascinating than they’re. There’s a visually hanging scene of bees swarming a window and whereas it does present an fascinating metaphor, Shim doesn’t do a lot with it. The movie’s rating can also be intrusive because it dictates to the viewers when they need to be spooked out. It actually exhibits that Shim doesn’t belief that the movie is actually scary.
One of the best that may be mentioned about Umma is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s quick and to the purpose however the disappointing factor is that there are seeds for a very good story right here. Regardless of Sandra Oh doing her greatest to breathe life right into a thankless position, Umma finally ends up being a chore to take a seat by way of. It’s a innocent endeavor but it surely’s additionally very shallow and dul.