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UMMA | 2022 | PG-13 | – 1.5.5

content-ratingsWhy is “UMMA” rated PG-13? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “terror, brief strong language and some thematic elements.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes many scenes of supernatural occurrences including loud noises and voices that cause people to jump, a few fights with a ghost that leave no visible injuries, several discussions of child abuse and torture, discussions of traditional Korean gender roles, and at least 1 F-word and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.


A beekeeper (Sandra Oh) is living off the grid, protecting her teen daughter (Fivel Stewart) from the world, until she receives a delivery of the strange remains of her abusive mother (Mee Wha Alana Lee). Odd things then begin to occur. Also with Dermot Mulroney, Odeya Rush and Tom Yi. Directed by Iris K. Shim. Many lines of dialogue are spoken in Korean with English subtitles. [Running Time: 1:23]

UMMA SEX/NUDITY 1

 – We see a close-up of a woman in a high-walled bathtub (her bare shoulders are visible), and in a later similar scene we see her bare upper back.

UMMA VIOLENCE/GORE 5

 – We hear the crying and screaming voice of a young girl begging for forgiveness from a mother who berates her for running away; we hear buzzing and see bolts of electricity, followed by the image of the young girl’s small hand, bloody across the palm and shaking (this scene is repeated several times as a flashback); we hear during one flashback that the girl was shut into a closet or cupboard and tortured with an electric lamp cord with the insulation stripped, leaving raw strands sparking loudly and brightly.
 We hear footsteps in an upper room where there is no one, as well as slamming doors, creaking floors, whooshing noises, buzzing, loud heartbeats, the eerie tune of a music box, indistinguishable chattering, and windows and doors rattling. A doorknob falls off and rolls across a floor. A cupboard emits pounding noises and a child’s crying voice as the door rattles in three scenes. A child’s voice screams, “I hate you! I wish you were dead!” A figure wearing a mask stomps on a baby chick and a woman falls down but as she gets back up, there is no trace of the figure or the chick exists. We see a bear’s paw print in the dirt. A teen girl finds her college application typed over in many lines of nonsense syllables, and the typewriter is shown upside down on the floor.
 A woman opens a suitcase to find a folded dress, which she unfolds to reveal a startling traditional wood mask that has many crisscross cuts covering the face; she replaces the fold of cloth, the mask gasps and breathes it in causing the woman to jump, close the case, and run out of the building. We see a wooden mask that disappears in several scenes, and a person that disappears and reappears in the attic window in another scene. We hear an off-screen voice speaking angrily to a woman (this could be supernatural or a hallucination) and she always gasps and looks very frightened, sometimes running away.
 A few scenes include loud rainstorms with thunder and long streaks of lighting, where a woman cowers in a corner on her bedroom floor and cries. A teen girl explores a dark cellar by flashlight, jumps as she is startled by a dress hanging on a nail, and gets locked into the cellar when the door suddenly slams shut; she screams and her mother lets her out. A woman is grabbed from behind by three pairs of hands, slaps them away, and falls to the floor and when she gets up she sees only her teen daughter and they argue, slap each other’s faces and the teen storms off.
 A woman digs a hole on her farm and smashes a framed photo of her deceased mother, a large urn of her ashes, and a dress into it, burying them; she walks away and the long belt of the dress reaches up through the dirt, grabs her leg, and drags her screaming several yards in the dirt; she beats the belt with a shovel and the dress emerges, choking her and we see her lying with her head in the hole, and everything she buried is gone. A woman is found by her teen daughter wearing her mother’s dress and speaking in her voice as if possessed; the woman holds out a broken, sparking lamp cord in one bloody hand and the girl screams as we hear the grandmother’s voice chant, “You can never escape.” A ghost of a woman appears, wearing a dress and mask and holding a knife and a teen girl runs outside where she finds a bloody feather, then a fox that sprouts dozens of bushy tails and it opens its bloody mouth, screeches, and we see a bloody torn-open chicken on the ground beneath its chin; the ghost woman knocks the teen down and they roll and struggle on the ground (no injuries are seen). A woman sinks into a deep hole in the ground and the screen goes black as we hear screaming off-screen; the woman finds herself in her old family apartment with her dead mother and challenges her to please leave, and cries at a music box that begins playing eerie music and the dead mother talks about how she was used and mistreated in her marriage and becomes angry. Two women bow at the grave of a relative and as they walk away in a middle-distance shot, the foreground shows an unknown figure wearing a traditional dress in the foreground.
 A woman tells a man that when she was a child, her mother was forced by her husband to bring the child to America from Korea; the mother was unable to learn English and was bullied in town and at home (we don’t see this), she began screaming all the time, her husband left the family, and the mother began abusing the daughter with sparking electrical cords, drawing blood in her little palms as the child screamed.
 An elderly man drives onto a farm and the owner runs out, screaming at him to cut the engine; in the house, he tells a woman, “Your mother is dead,” and in a blurry background, an elderly woman reaches out to the first woman and then disappears; the man berates the first woman, saying she caused her mother’s death, and leaves after putting down a suitcase containing the remains of the woman’s mother and saying, “You know what she is capable of.”
 During a mother-daughter argument about the girl wanting to leave to attend college soon, we hear that the girl is homeschooled because she begged her mom to remove her from public school, where she was bullied (we do not see the bullying). We hear that a woman and her teen daughter are a topic of gossip in the local town. A woman says that she is a beekeeper, despite her hatred of bees and their buzzing that reminds her of electricity torture during childhood. A man’s knee cracks when he flexes it and he complains of the pain of aging.
 A woman allows no electricity on her bee farm, including cars, cell phones, lamps, etc.; she and her 16-year-old daughter are isolated and use only bicycles, candles, kerosene lanterns, flashlights and a gas stove.

UMMA LANGUAGE 5

 – At least 1 F-word, 2 scatological terms, 3 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy-psycho, weird, freaks, demented, gwishin [White person], disobedient little girl, psycho [mild obscenity deleted]), exclamations (shut-up), 6 religious exclamations (e.g. oh God). | profanity glossary |

UMMA SUBSTANCE USE

 – A man and a woman each drink from their own bottle of beer and have two empty beer bottles near them.

UMMA DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – Intergenerational abuse, maltreatment of Korean women, isolation, torture, shame, PTSD, fear, danger, death, loss, grief, the need for professional mental health support, the supernatural, superstitions, visions, hallucinations, Korean culture, gossip, assimilation of Koreans into American society.

UMMA MESSAGE

 – Mental illness and abuse in America need to be better addressed, especially in rural areas, and immigrants should be able to access these services more readily.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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