Superficial rather than darkly sensible is this new horror exercise starring Sandra Oh as electrically allergic Amanda.
Umma infuses Korean mythology into an indecisive narrative from helms-woman Iris K. Shim. Oh, a Canadian-American actress of Korean parentage is dawn into a risible brand of osmosis for the genre that was on the rise when she started on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. Attempts into camp and emotionality don’t work into the intentions of a gripping mother/daughter relationship.
Amanda fell out with her titular (Korean name for) mother some sixteen years ago, living off the grid with a newborn in the U.S. at a remote farm. Presently with teen daughter Chrissy (Fivel Stewart) their online honeybee enterprise has more potential given the help of shopkeeper Danny (Dermot Mulroney). Through Chrissy’s more preoccupied with her post-secondary school education.
Amanda’s trauma (as the sound mix offers plenty of requisite jump scares) is the impetus for the screenplay of an inescapable past. Thanks to the unannounced arrival of her admonishing Korean-speaking uncle, a loathing will surely make its presence known, ‘mother always gets what she wants.’ After handing over remains and valued artifacts.
This familial concept does have promise (given that a genre authority like Sam Raimi Drag Me to Hell serves as a co-producer) but the filmmaking that ensues is too chunky and drab (notice the CGI) with material likely excised to fit a manageable runtime.
A line from Danny eliciting a knowing look is part of what Oh is committed to making instead of the deathly serious spine-tingling with apparitions disappearing as fast as they pop up on screen. You can really fault the actors here including Stewart, Mulroney and Odeya Rush as a niece. More likely to linger is the sonorous, nobody score from Roque Barios that just doesn’t do right for a woman like Amanda haunted by her past. One can look to the recent Relic for an allegorical, nightmarish decent into true horror.