Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of Ma Explained

There's a grand tradition in movies of psychopathic women who break bad and allow their inner demons to get the best of them. From Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) in Misery to Diane Sherman (Sarah Paulson) in 2020's Run, there's no shortage of thrillers that will make your skin crawl. You may be able to convince yourself there's no such thing as monsters and demons, but violent people are all too real. 

When dissecting this genre, you have to bring into account one of the most popular thrillers of the last few years — Ma, starring Octavia Spencer. The film starts off simply enough, when a group of teenagers want a woman named Sue Ann, AKA Ma (Spencer) to buy booze for them. She soon takes a liking to them and invites them to party in her basement where they don't have to worry about the cops showing up, but things start taking odd turns as Ma steadily becomes more unhinged. Eventually, the audience discovers that as a teenager, Ma was bullied by the students' parents, and she enacts a plan to get revenge on them by messing with their kids. 

It all erupts into a fiery conclusion that leaves more than a few questions up in the air. Allow us to break down the Ma ending for you. 

Sue Ann goes to die with Ben, allowing her trauma to come full circle

After Sue Ann enacts some Saw-esque torture on her teenage friends, they make a break for it, taking her secret daughter, Genie (Tanyell Waivers) with them. As a fire rages through Sue Ann's house, Maggie (Diana Silvers) stabs her in the back so that they could make a break for it. Instead of trying to flee with them, Sue Ann walks upstairs where she left the corpse of Ben (Luke Evans), who humiliated her when she was a kid. All she can do cuddle up with him and accept her fate. 

All her life, Ma wanted respect. Whether it came in the form of a boy she had a crush on or kids who looked up to her, she just wanted to feel like she belonged. In those final moments, she attained precisely that. She found peace amongst the chaos, and even though it meant her doom, she decided she would rather spend her last final moments on Earth with Ben than try to escape the burning house. 

Not to mention, Sue Ann has killed several people at this point in the film. She probably also decided it was better to die than spend the rest of her life in prison. 

Ma is a lesson in how the trauma of the past affects the present

It's important to recognize that Ma wasn't necessarily out to cause trouble. She doesn't even give the teenage kids a second thought until she realizes they're the children of the people who tormented her when she was in high school. All those years later, and she never forgot how badly they hurt her, and it appears as though those emotions were only compounded when the kids in the present day started to disrespect her. That's when she set her grand plan in motion, killing Ben's girlfriend (Missi Pyle) and kidnapping the teens in the process.

Ultimately, the teens were kind of rude to Ma, but they're kids. They don't know any better. They wouldn't have even been in a situation where they were in close contact with Ma if their parents had treated her better all those years ago. It goes to show how childhood trauma can continue to influence a person years after the fact and impact the next generation. The kids are paying for their parents' mistakes, and it all could've been avoided if the kids' parents had tried to make amends previously. 

This idea of childhood trauma is further explored in the character of Genie: Sue Ann makes her use a wheelchair when she's at school, even though she's perfectly capable of walking on her own. It implies a sense of needing control over some aspect of her life, and Genie provides that outlet. Luckily, Genie decides to break the cycle and disobey her mother, hopefully getting into a healthier household where she can thrive in the future.

Could Ma 2 be in the cards?

The ending of Ma seems pretty straightforward. Her and her childhood tormentor perish in a house fire, but as anyone who's seen a thriller will tell you, never believe someone is dead until you see them buried (and even then take it with a grain of salt). While we see Sue Ann lying in bed with the flames closing in around her, we never actually see her bite the dust. If the creative team behind the film wanted to, then we're sure they could come up with some explanation of how she survived. 

Ma director Tate Taylor even spoke about his willingness to come back to this crazy world if the demand was there, telling Entertainment Weekly, "I think it's worth discussing [a sequel]. I know Octavia [Spencer] would do it, that's why I purposely left her death ambiguous!" Taylor went on to share some ideas he's come up with for what direction Ma 2 would go: "My idea is that she's moved to another town, and she has open houses in another city and kills people in the open house. I think she'd be a real estate agent in the Pacific Northwest and just murder white people looking at McMansions. That's as far as I've gotten!" 

As of right now, Ma 2: Mama (not the official title) is still just a pipe dream, but considering the sheer number of memes that came from the first film, a follow-up may just break the internet.