Amanda (Sandra Oh) lives on a farm with her daughter Chris (Fivel Stewart). The pair spend their days doing various duties on the farm, such as making money from honey which is in high demand, and they look after various animals. From the film’s opening, we learn a few key things. Firstly Amanda had a tragic upbringing while living with her mother when she was a young girl, and in the present day, she still suffers from horrific nightmares and visions. We also understand that no form of technology is used on the farm because items such as mobile phones can significantly affect Amanda.
Apart from having haunting nightmares, life for Amanda and Chris is generally pleasing. One day, Amanda gets an unexpected visit from her uncle, whom she hasn’t seen in quite a while. Her uncle has a delivery for Amanda, her mother’s ashes, who passed away a couple of months ago. Along with the ashes, she’s also given a strange suitcase belonging to her mother. Amanda is given warnings and requests surrounding her mother’s passing but instantly wants nothing to do with it. As Amanda tries to move forward with her life, she finds a haunting presence of some kind now lurks within the home. Could it be Amanda’s mother or something else more sinister?
Umma (which, fun fact, means mother in Korean) is best described as a horror film. The film’s opening introduces many fun and strange mysteries, including the unknown reason why Amanda cannot be around electricity. The introduction of Amanda’s past and even the arrival of her mother’s suitcase is also exciting to witness; however, we see Amanda experience several visions and strange occurrences, which becomes disappointing. The film’s pace and the story become less exciting and instead feel slower and more generic, along with several attempts of jump scares.
Credit where credit is due, Umma doesn’t just have a great opening but also carries an excellent audio track, especially regarding creepy and haunting sound effects. Strange noises and odd sounds can be heard around the farm throughout the film’s duration, and I felt this worked well; some moments are built up quite nicely. It should also come as no surprise that Sandra Oh, as Amanda, also carries powerful moments that are quite good and successfully brings the character to life, a combination of being scared, concerned, and filled with deep suffering from her tragic past.
Overall, with an opening that’s fun and mysterious opening, I’m saddened to say it doesn’t take long until it feels like another horror movie instead of delivering something stronger and more outstanding. Granted, actress Sandra Oh delivers intense moments with her leading character, continually scared and filled with suffering. The film’s audio track, such as sound effects, was also fun to witness. However, by the film’s finale, I felt disappointed as everything I experienced seemed too familiar, dull and most certainly, generic with its storyline and outcomes.