"Wanna party like it's 1999?"
by Nina Romain for remotegoat on 26/06/19

Fish-out-of-water teen Maggie (Diana Silvers) moves to a small rural town with her single mom Erica (Juliette Lewis) and tries to fit into a new school. She meets a teen using a wheelchair and is befriended by the cool gang of kids who invite her out to try to buy illicit booze for a sly night out. The only adult willing to do this is Sue Ellen (Octavia Spencer), a vet assistant in the end of Nowheresville.

Transforming from pillar of society to lovable, crazy auntie, Sue Ellen buys them underage booze, and insists the teens call her by her nickname "Ma" and like all lovably mad relatives, lets them party in her basement complete with illicit liquor and turns a blind eye to some dope smoking.

She joins them in dancing and partying, which the teens think is fun although none of them wonder exactly why a total stranger should be that obliging to Millennials they've never met before. She finds them on Facebook and starts messaging them obsessively, while the teenager using a wheelchair that Maggie met turns out to be Ma’s daughter.

Meanwhile, they start noticing strange things happening after the raucous nights at Ma's basement: they’re experiencing sudden memory gaps, their jewellery goes missing and appears on Ma the next day, they are bombarded with bizarre vine messages from their hostess the next day. Although these could be fairly normal aspects of teen drinking, Ma starts behaving more and more strangely. She invites herself into their houses under cover of her job, claims to have cancer in a sympathy attempt, and befriends their parents. Maggie naturally tries to warn her friends that something is up, but no one wants to listen given that this could be an escape from their prairie-ridden boredom.

Spencer is great as the lovable 30something who seems to just want to party like it’s 1999 once more, and there's a slightly predictable backstory from writer Scotty Landes about how Ma was bullied in the 80s at high school by the Heathers-esque nasty clique. This leads her to wreak havoc on the next generation who have to pay for their parents’ cruelty 20 years ago.

Director Tate Taylor keep the pace slow, until the final moment when Ma finally snaps, and the teens awake from a last drugged drink to find themselves trapped in the basement with their genial hostess getting in touch with her inner Annie Wilkes.

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