'Ma' Ending Explained: Does It Set Up a Sequel? (Spoilers)

Here's what you need to know.

A consequence to the proliferation of franchise films is that horror movies have gotten in on the action with ambiguous endings that could feasibly set up a sequel. That’s what makes Ma actually special. It knows its premise can only go so far, and so its story lives and dies within its running time. It also has a very straightforward ending, a rarity in the genre today.

Still, for those who snuck peeking at their phones during the film’s climax (which, by the way, don’t do that, put your phones away), here’s what happened at the end of Ma from director Tate Taylor.

Spoilers for Ma ahead.

In Ma, starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, a middle-aged woman named Sue Ann (Spencer) befriends a clique of high schoolers after buying them alcohol as a favor. She quickly becomes attached to her new friends, including Maggie (Diana Silvers), and opens up her basement to become the newest party spot in town. But Sue Ann’s ulterior motives are soon revealed, seeking revenge against their parents who actually bullied Sue Ann when she was younger.

Towards the end of the film, Sue Ann throws one last party, with Maggie grounded at home. While Maggie sneaks out to 1) get her boyfriend Andy (Corey Fogelmanis) the hell out of there, and 2) get her earrings back, Maggie discovers her friends have been drugged. It’s not long before Maggie also falls victim after Sue Ann injects her with the same anesthetic.

The next morning, Maggie wakes up to find herself and her friends all tied up. As Sue Ann begins to mutilate the group one by one (all of them asleep), a cop pays a visit, trying to figure out why there’s a bunch of cars parked and beer cans on her lawn. Sue Ann kills the cop, but out of nowhere, Sue Ann’s daughter, Genie (Tanyell Waivers), who has arguably suffered under Sue Ann the most, knocks out her mother to help Maggie get free. Also, the basement catches fire.

Slowly Maggie’s friends wake up, and eventually Maggie’s mom arrives to unlock the basement door. But like a true movie villain, Sue Ann wakes up, fire surrounding her, and bear-hugs Genie to kill them both in the fire.

“Mommy loves you, baby,” she says. 

Maggie grabs Sue Ann’s knife and uses it to stab her in the back, freeing Genie. Everyone escapes outside, leaving Sue Ann to die in the fire. Mysteriously, the stab wound doesn’t seem to hurt Sue Ann, but she dies anyway. She goes upstairs to the body of Andy’s father, Ben (Luke Evans) — her teenaged crush who horrifically humiliated her when they were young — and dies with him as her house collapses all around her. End.

Ma Octavia Spencer
In 'Ma' (2019), Octavia Spencer stars as a lonely woman who befriends a group of high schoolers and opens up her basement to become the number one party in town. The party soon ends when her attachment to the kids reveals a different motive.

No post-credits scene, no teaser at the end. Ma is a one and done story, and while a sequel could be possible, the film exists singularly and on its own. While I find it sad that one of the film’s minor, innocent characters also doesn’t make it out at the end — she’s knocked out by Sue Ann with an iron and presumably dies after the house burns down — Ma is actually a bloodless movie with one of the lowest body counts in recent memory.

But just because Sue Ann doesn’t kill many people doesn’t mean Ma isn’t terrifying. While the film isn’t a jump scarefest, it’s horrifying in the sad life of Sue Ann, a woman who felt she deserved more than she got from other people.

Ma is in theaters on May 31.

Media via Universal Pictures