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Umma (Sony Pictures) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Umma (Sony Pictures) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Sony Pictures
    Released on: May 24th, 2022.
    Director: Iris K. Shim
    Cast: Sandra Oh, Fivel Stewart, Dermot Mulroney, Odeya Rush, MeeWha Lee
    Year: 2022
    Purchase From Amazon

    Umma – Movie Review:

    Directed by Iris K. Shim and produced by Sam Raimi for his own Raimi Productions, 2022’a Umma (which is the Korean word for ‘mother’) stars Sandra Oh as a woman named Amanda who lives with her daughter Chris (Fivel Stewart) on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the American west. Here they lead a quiet but seemingly comfortable life farming bees and harvesting honey. They may not be rolling in dough, but they get by and are friendly with their neighbor, an amiable middle-aged man named Danny (Dermot Mulroney). Amanda, however, has issues. She claims that she gets sick when there's too much electricity used around her and is plagued by horrible dreams pretty much every night.

    Then, on a day like any other, Amanda's uncle Kang (Tom Yi) arrives from Korea with a suitcase containing the ashes of Amanda's recently departed mother and some of her cherished possessions. Amanda hadn't seen her mother in years and her uncle makes it very clear to her, before he leaves, that she should feel guilty about this decision. Amanda is, understandably, shaken by these events and initially decides to simply ignore the suitcase and its contents. Chris, however, is quite curious about all of this and starts asking questions about her heritage and ancestry. While Amanda comes to terms with all of this, her relationship with Chris starts to parallel her relationship with her own mother.

    While there are moments of tension and a few eerie bits here and there, Umma is not the horror movie that you’d expect given its marketing, but it is still a pretty decent movie and one worth seeing assuming that you go in with proper expectations. In place of scares, we get something closer to a drama that deals with issues of loss, abandonment, and our own mortality. It goes into some dark territory at times but as the story evolves and some of the layers are peeled back allowing us to get to know Amanda and, to lesser but still important degree, Chris the character development takes shape and we do wind up wanting to know how their respective plights will play out.

    It’s really the acting that is the main draw here. Sandra Oh is excellent in the lead. When her Amanda is frightened and upset, we understand why and we feel for her because she manages to craft a believable and fairly sympathetic character through her performance. Fivel Stewart is also strong here, she and Oh have a really good rapport together and they are a good fit as mother and daughter. The supporting work from the always reliable Dermot Mulroney and from Tom Yi is also noteworthy.

    Director Iris K. Shim paces the movie well and manages to create some solid atmosphere. The production values are pretty strong across the board and the movie features a good score and very strong cinematography. Again, not a horror movie at all, really, but a well-told tale featuring some really good acting.

    Umma – Blu-ray Review:

    Umma looks great in this AVC encoded 2.39.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer. Detail is frequently striking and particularly revelatory in facial close up shots, while medium and long distance shots fare almost as well. Black levels are very strong, which is important considering how much of the movie takes place in the dark, while flesh tones look lifelike and accurate. Texture is great, you'll notice this not only on clothing but also in the background details in various rooms and locations. Shot on digital video, this digital to digital transfer obviously doesn't suffer from any print damage or grain, but it does show some very minor banding if you look for it - this is nitpicking, however, as the movie, for the most part, looks pretty damn near perfect.

    The main audio option on the disc is a good one, a fantastic one, actually. Dialogue is always crisp and clear and there are loads of great ambient effects used in the quieter and more dramatic scenes to keep you on your toes and plenty more used in the more action intensive scenes to heighten tension and provide some fun scares. Bass response is strong, the low end if powerful without burying anything in the mix. 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 audio tracks are also provided in French and Portuguese, while Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are offered in Spanish and Thai. Optional subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Chinese. An English language Dolby Digital 5.1 descriptive audio track is also included.

    Extras are limited to trailers for a few other Sony properties, menus and chapter selection. This release does come bundled with an insert card containing a code that can be redeemed for a digital HD version of the movie.

    Umma - The Final Word:

    Umma isn’t the horror film that it’s made out to be by its marketing materials, but it is as well-made movie with a really strong performance from Sandra Oh and a few moments of decent tension. Sony’s Blu-ray release is light on extras but does present the movie in an excellent presentation. Don’t go into this expecting much in the way of scares, but the movie gets enough right to make it worth a watch.



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