Octavia Spencer is reuniting with “The Help” director Tate Taylor on “Ma,” a new film that’s being described as a combination of a horror pic and a psychological thriller. “Ma” will be produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, the makers of “Insidious,” “The Purge,” and the Oscar-nominated smash “Get Out.”
“It’s dark material, but it’s also really fun,” Taylor said. “Octavia is so damn likable that we usually see her in certain roles. But she’s such a good actress and this is such a complex character that if I do my job right, people in the audience are going to want to push pause and say, ‘Can we please take you out for coffee so you don’t do what you’re about to do.’”
Juliette Lewis, an Oscar nominee for “Cape Fear,” and Luke Evans, last seen trying to woo Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” will co-star. Production begins in Mississippi on Monday, with some of the shooting taking place on Taylor’s 100-acre spread and Greek Revival mansion. Spencer, who formerly lived with Taylor when they were trying to break out in the movie business, will be staying with him.
Taylor, whose other credits include the box office hit “The Girl on the Train” and the James Brown biopic “Get on Up,” is better known for making dramas than for cooking up horror films, but “Ma” emerged after he sat down with Blum. He suspects that Blum, who also has produced “Whiplash” and is developing a Roger Ailes mini-series for Showtime titled “Secure and Hold,” was more interested in Taylor for less genre-oriented fare. Whatever the case, Blum jumped at the chance to back Taylor’s inaugural entry into horror. The Blumhouse team sent Taylor home from a meeting with an original script from Scotty Landes.
“It was so serendipitous, because Octavia and I are always complaining about being offered the same s—, and I read this and thought, ‘Oh f—,’” Taylor said. “This is so f—ing weird and awesome and I want Octavia be the lead.”
Blum is equally enthused to have landed the Oscar winner.
“She’s an extraordinary actress at the top of her talents right now,” Blum said. “To have her in one of our movies is just a real confirmation of the value that we’ve built with our little system.”
Taylor is keeping mum about what role Spencer will be playing.
“I wouldn’t call her a villain,” he said. “It’s definitely the most complex character she’s ever played, if I may be so bold as to say that.”
It’s certainly an advantageous time for Taylor to make the leap to horror films. At a time when movie attendance is down, horror movies have proven to be resilient. “Get Out” skillfully tapped into the zeitgeist to mix scares with a penetrating look at racial politics, while “Split” (another Blumhouse production) and “It” were among the biggest hits of 2017. Blum said he’s noticed more filmmakers are reaching out to him about collaborating following the success of “Get Out.” He thinks the reasons are two-fold. “Get Out” with its four Oscar nominations proved that horror films can be artistically bold as well as commercially potent. At the same time, many of the dramatic material that once attracted auteurs is moving to the small screen.
(Excerpt) Read More in: Variety