‘X’ and ‘Umma’: Short Titles, Ambitious Scares

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Umma (CREDIT: Saeed Adyani/Sony Pictures); X (CREDIT: Christopher Moss/A24)

Umma:

Starring: Sandra Oh, Fivel Stewart, Dermot Mulroney, Odeya Rush, MeeWha Alana Lee, Tom Yi

Director: Iris K. Shim

Running Time: 83 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Terrifying Memories and a Terrifying Present

Release Date: March 18, 2022 (Theaters)

X:

Starring: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Scott Mescudi, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, James Gaylyn

Director: Ti West

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Rating: R for Plenty of Sex and Violence

Release Date: March 18, 2022 (Theaters)

This week, we’ve got a couple of new horror releases arriving with pithy, vague titles. They pair well as a potential double feature, so I decided to go ahead and review them together. They’re also both operating in familiar subgenres with their own unique flourishes that you may or may not see coming. Let’s dig in.

First off, we’ll take a look at Umma, which to English speakers might sound like baby-talk. In a way it kind of is, but anyone who knows Korean will surely clock what’s in store. Starring Sandra Oh as a single mother named Amanda who lives alone with her daughter (Fivel Stewart) in an electricity-free home, this is one of those supernatural tales in which a ghost attaches to a person’s soul and just won’t let go. The East Asian pedigree suggests a throwback to the early 2000s when The Ring and The Grudge inaugurated a wave of J- and K-horror. But while those influences are certainly noticeable, a story of what we owe and inherit from our mothers resonates across cultures.

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‘Don’t’ Look Up’ Might Make You Scream, Except That Its Characters Are Doing Enough of That Already

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Don’t Look Up (CREDIT: Niko Tavernise/Netflix)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Chiklis

Director: Adam McKay

Running Time: 138 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: December 10, 2021 (Theaters)/December 24, 2021 (Netflix)

Timothée Chalamet should have been in all of Don’t Look Up.

Or at least like 75% of it. I’m thinking the ideal situation would be that he’s a main character, but he’s barely in the trailer, if at all. So when he shows up, you think he’ll hang around for just a few scenes, but instead he gradually just takes over the whole affair. A miniature version of that is what actually happens in the Don’t Look Up that we did get, as he shows up about 2/3 of the way through and plays a fairly large part from that point forward.

What I’m trying to say is, instead of recreating the broad reality of people yelling at clear and present disaster, Don’t Look Up probably would’ve been better off primarily focusing on the peculiarities of random skater boys rolling through the apocalypse.

Grade: Look Up About Half the Time