A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Makes comments on the lingering scars of apartheid and colonialism.
Positive Role Models
A daughter tries to find out the truth about the house where her mother works.
Movie set in South Africa -- looks at different generations of Black people and the lingering ugliness of apartheid and colonialism. The culture and day-to-day life of these characters is revealed as Tsidi attempts to uncover the menace lurking in the mansion where her mother has worked for a wealthy White woman for decades.
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Violence & Scariness
Slow-burn psychological horror: jump scares throughout, exaggerated sounds, creepy imagery. Stabbing death and injury, with blood. In nightmare vision, woman's hand falls off while brushing her teeth; earlier she loses control of the hand while brushing, and the brush is gagged down her throat before she finds a way to stop it. Woman is pinned down and vomited on.
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Infrequent strong language: "f--k," "hell." A character calls someone a "coconut."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Good Madam is a 2022 psychological horror movie in which a woman suspects sinister forces are lurking in the house where her mother works as a live-in domestic servant. This is a South African movie that explores themes of apartheid, colonialism, and the racial and economic tensions and disparity that remain. It's a slow-burn suspense movie, filled with jump scares and creepy imagery before culminating in more disturbing scenes. In nightmare visions, the lead character sees her hand fall off while she's brushing her teeth, followed by blood. In another instance of tooth brushing, the woman loses control of her hand as it forces the toothbrush in and out of her mouth, causing her to choke and gag. There's a stabbing death, and knife wounds to the hand. A woman is forcibly held down while another woman vomits on her. Some infrequent language includes "f--k." Cigarette smoking occurs. Characters speak Xhosa and some English. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a maddening psychological horror movie with a powerful message on apartheid and colonialism in South Africa. Good Madam uses the suspense of the genre to explore how power dynamics, economic disparity, and institutional racism continue to alter the lives and relationships between Blacks and Whites in that country, although it's easy to extrapolate these dynamics to other countries. While Tsidi feels alienated from the mansion where her mother, Mavis, has worked for so many years, her half-brother was raised in the mansion and seems to have assimilated so thoroughly that Tsidi calls him a "coconut." When Tsidi and her daughter, Winnie, move in after the death of Tsidi's grandmother, Tsidi tells Winnie that "it's not that Momma doesn't like the house, it's that the house doesn't like Momma."
What emerges, unfortunately -- and this is what makes it so maddening -- is a message without a story. In lulls in interactions, the movie spends time focusing on old photographs on the walls à la The Shining, or extreme close-ups and exaggerated sound effects of Mavis or Tsidi cleaning. It all has a point, but with a slow-burn movie like this, you want the payoff to be worth it. By the time the movie hits the climax, it feels unsatisfying. The movie keeps hinting at actual scares, but none are forthcoming. It's a disappointing experience, because there's a lingering sense that this should be better than it is.
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