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Umma (which means Mum in the Korean language) is a 2022 American supernatural horror movie. It is written and directed by Iris K. Shim and it stars Sandra Oh, Fivel Stewart, MeeWha Alana Lee, Tom Yi, Odeya Rush, and Dermot Mulroney. Sam Raimi serves as a producer on the film. The film follows Amanda (Oh), a single mother who lives with her daughter in a isolated farm being haunted by her mother's ghost.
Umma was released in the United States on March 18, 2022 by Sony Pictures Releasing. The movie had mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, who liked Oh's performance and the movie's themes, but criticized its as cliché, its screenplay, many jump scares and no tension.
Plot[change | change source]
Korean immigrant Amanda and her homeschooled daughter Chrissy “Chris” live on a rural farm, raising bees, selling honey, raising chickens, and living without modern technology as Amanda has an “allergic reaction” to electronics and electricity. She's upset to learn that Chrissy wants to leave the farm in order to pursue college, as Amanda had wanted her to remain on the farm. When Amanda receives the cremated ashes of her recently deceased estranged mother, who she called Umma, in a suitcase from her uncle visiting her from Korea, she is confronted with memories of her abusive childhood.
Umma had been left to raise Amanda alone in the United States, unable to speak English and surrounded by those who did not understand or practice her culture. It is revealed that Amanda fabricated her “allergy” to electronics after being electrically shocked multiple times by Umma as punishment. When Amanda cut ties with her mother she also cut ties with her Korean heritage as a whole, including giving up her family name. As her uncle left, he shamed Amanda for abandoning her own mother and heritage, and for not teaching Chrissy Korean language and culture.
Soon after the ashes arrive a vicious spirit appears, intent on claiming Amanda's body for itself. As the supernatural phenomena following the delivery of her mother’s ashes progress, from visions of tormented Korean spirits (including Umma’s spirit) to an encounter with a kumiho that was eating her chickens, Amanda suddenly becomes more paranoid and fearful that she’s slowly becoming her own mother. This fear becomes realized when Umma successfully possesses her daughter when Amanda tries to bury the ashes.
Chrissy finds her mother performing the Jesa and wearing a mask and hanbok. She's attacked by Amanda, but manages to avoid being killed after pleading for her life. Amanda decides to confront her mother. She forgives her for the abuse. Amanda acknowledges that it was unfair that Umma had been expected to raise a child all alone in a country far from home and in her circumstances, but that it was not an excuse for the abuse. This compassion and understanding allows Umma to finally move on and be at peace, as she had also come to understand that what she did to Amanda was unfair. The film ends with Amanda rediscovering her family heritage and sharing it with her daughter, as well as coming to terms with Chrissy’s need to live her own life.