Amanda (Sandra Oh) seems to be living the ideal life in a sprawling, remote farmhouse with her daughter, Chris (Dievel Stewart). They spend every day together, managing their apiary and packaging the honey to sell with the help of local shopkeeper Danny (HELLOOOOO Dermot Mulroney!).
Because Amanda suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, this is true off-the-grid living, with no electricity, cell phones, or computers. And a past full of abuse from her estranged Umma (the Korean word for Mother) causes nightmares and traumatic flashbacks.
One day Amanda’s uncle shows up with Umma’s remains – insisting they belong to her, and that she has to carry out a special ceremony to put her mother to rest. Unable to honor her Umma, Amanda places her mother’s ashes into a closet, and that’s when things start to go off the rails! Mom’s unsettled spirit emerges, threatening to destroy both Amanda and her daughter.
UMMA is a quiet, disturbing film that made me jump more than a few times! In addition to the ghosty-spookiness, it says a lot about mother/daughter relationships, and the fear of becoming exactly like the person who hurt you the most. Director Iris K. Shim does an amazing job making you feel unsettled.
Of course it’s not surprising that Sandra Oh absolutely slays this role, and Stewart is lovely as well. And while this isn’t a splattery movie, I really appreciated the subtle effects that demonstrated Umma’s presence, and found the final confrontation to be pretty terrifying.
UMMA is available to watch now on demand, and will be released on Blu-ray & DVD May 24th.