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Is Ma Based On A True Story?

Directed by Tate Taylor, the horror flick "Ma" was released in 2019 with Octavia Spencer in the lead role. The film tells a suspenseful story of a woman who takes loneliness and friendship to terrifying heights. Spencer plays Sue Ann, an isolated veterinary assistant who befriends a group of teenagers despite being a woman of mature age. This is what earns her the nickname "Ma." Eventually, in fear of losing her newly found companions due to reasonably concerned parents, Ma snaps and performs numerous violent and murderous acts.

"Ma" is the first full leap into horror for Spencer. She has appeared in horror roles before as seen on her IMDb page. She played a very small, but mighty part in 2009's "Drag Me to Hell" and Rob Zombie's "Halloween II." However, this is her first time playing the lead role and villain in a horror film. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Spencer discussed taking on the role and her secret love for true crime. Spencer elaborates on her dark passion saying, "I watch all of the Investigation Channel ... true crime for me is where I exist. It's about solving the puzzle every night."

With Spencer's love for true crime and the film's plot sounding ripped from a late-night crime show, some viewers may be wondering if "Ma" is based on a true story? Here's the answer.

Nothing has been said that suggests Ma is based on a true story

Unfortunately — or maybe in this case, fortunately – there is no information available that suggests "Ma" is based on a true story. Director Tate Taylor nor any of the film's stars have made comments about the film's plot taking inspiration from a real-life crime. This Syfy article comments that screenwriter Scotty Landes may have taken inspiration from the famous story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, but there is no further information to confirm this speculation. Landes did appear on the iHeart radio podcast "Stop! Horror Time!" where the case of Blanchard was discussed, but no insinuation is made that it directly influenced "Ma."

However, in the aforementioned Los Angeles Times article, Taylor did discuss some of the background and setting of "Ma." The film is set in Ohio, but the article makes mention that it was filmed in the director's home state of Mississippi. Taylor explains this is because he wanted the story to feel that it could be anywhere in America saying, "I didn't want it to be specifically Deep South, because then there's this whole other trope-cliché-expectation ... I wanted it to be Anywhere, America. There's a regional neutrality to it." This element adds to the true-crime element of "Ma," it might not be a true story, but it's certainly terrifying to think it could be one.