[Blu-ray/DVD Review] UMMA
Courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
As a child from an immigrant family, I’m familiar with stories that have been passed down. Those include plenty involving spirits and what happens when a child wanders to places they shouldn’t be hanging around. Thanks to streaming services like Shudder, these stories as well as many others belonging to several cultures and religions are being shared. They don’t always have the best execution (I’m looking at you, Curse of La Llorona), but it gets people talking. Iris K. Shim‘s UMMA is named after the Korean word for “mother,” which is appropriate as it embraces themes surrounding generational trauma.

Amanda (Sandra Oh) and her daughter Chris (Fivel Stewart) are living a simple life on an American farm. Amanda clearly has some childhood trauma involving her relationship with her mother. As a result, she lives an isolated life without electricity, raising bees and selling honey which seems to be doing well. Amanda’s uncle whom she hasn’t seen in years shows up with her mother’s remains which also brings along the horrors she’s been trying to run away from. Her mother’s spirit is not resting and is hellbent on punishing Amanda and her daughter.

Sandra Oh is one of those actresses who is just a natural on screen. No matter the size of the role or the quality of the script, she can always elevate a character without much effort. In UMMA, her performance is no exception to past roles, but the film itself feels all too familiar in a world full of “elevated” horror. The scares aren’t scary and there’s not too much to care about in the mother-daughter relationship to get emotionally attached. Honestly, I would have loved to see more about Korean folklore and tradition here when it comes to how to approach death. There are hints here and there, but the focus is on cheap scares and a rather short run time that doesn’t allow UMMA to breathe.

The Blu-ray release delivers both audio and visual presentations. There are a lot of dark sequences that actually look clean without much pixelation that’s often present in movies like these. The 5.1 track does the necessary, embracing creaking floors and jolting sounds for the squeamish. Unfortunately, there is not a single special feature for this release aside from a digital copy. A director commentary would have made a nice supplement but UMMA feels like it was dumped into theaters without any support and the home video release was treated just the same.

UMMA feels recycled even with Oh giving it her best in the lead role. Without any special features to feast on and a movie that didn’t deliver much on its own, this Blu-ray isn’t worth your time or money.

UMMA is now available on Digital, Blu-ray & DVD.

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