GOOD MADAM on Shudder is a horror movie from South Africa (org. title Mlungu Wam). This one has a distinct Jordan Peele vibe and also a touch of Ari Aster. However, to me, it is not nearly as strong. Read our full Good Madam movie review here!
GOOD MADAM is a new Shudder horror movie from South Africa (org. title Mlungu Wam). The film has a lot going for it but also misses a few marks. In the beginning, I could easily recognize the inspiration (and influence) of filmmakers like Jordan Peele. Even the poster and the cover art look like it’s a movie from Jordan Peele.
Also, it’s far too long (despite a runtime of just 92 minutes) and leaves too much unsaid. Maybe someone from South Africa will pick up on more than I’m able to. Still, I had to read up on details to truly understand the important depths of the story. Which was a bit of a shame.
Continue reading our Good Madam movie review below.
Is Good Madam the South African Get Out?
I’ve seen Good Madam compared to Jordan Peele’s Get Out in many (many!) features and reviews of the film. However, I wouldn’t go nearly that far. Also, it isn’t as much of a spoiler as you would think. Plus, the director of this South African horror movie is white.
That fact alone means it cannot be the same as when Jordan Peele tells a story about being black.
And yes, Good Madam is very much a story about being black and working for white people in South Africa. In a post “apartheid” world, that is. The fact that we’re in the present – and therefore after Apartheid – is also mentioned in the film.
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The younger black woman loathes most things associated with white people. And for good reason. The older black woman has lived under Apartheid in a very different way and reacts strongly when the younger woman mentions “Apartheid”.
Neither is wrong to focus on this. The older wants to utilize the relatively new freedom to have a better world for the next generation. The younger is angry that getting more (but nowhere near the same) is supposed to be enough. It clearly isn’t.
However, she does ruin a lot and acts like a spoiled child, when she is a grown woman with responsibilities for her own child. I get her anger (even if I can never fully understand it). But I do not respect her lack of support or understanding for the world her own daughter is trying to succeed in.
An important story!
I can easily understand why a style inspired by Jordan Peele was chosen for Good Madam. It’s one that can easily be used across any language barrier and translates what you see rather than what you hear. And yes, some English is spoken in Good Madam, but not for the most part.
I have no issue with this (at all!) since I always have subtitles on whenever possible in any case. But I do know many people take offence – yes, they do – with having to “read a movie”.
In any case, when a story is told in the familiar vibe of Jordan Peele and even (to some extent) the slow-burn style of Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar), it does translate very easily. It creates an eerie atmosphere that transcends language. Also, there really isn’t that much dialogue in this movie.
Unfortunately, this film isn’t as strong as I’d hoped. Despite ultimately having a very strong story – and a really good ending!
Watch Good Madam on Shudder!
Jenna Cato Bass is the director of Good Madam and she does an excellent job in many ways. As a white woman, I still find it strange that she is compared to Jordan Peele so much. I do, however, very much appreciate the fact that the film was based on a story by director Jenna Cato Bass and Babalwa Baartman (a black woman).
The actual screenplay has a whopping 12 people getting writing credit, which might explain why it isn’t as tight or strong as the films by Jordan Peele or Ari Aster. Both make films that this one is compared to. In terms of style, I can see a bit of both. But they also have a very strong storyline and this one doesn’t. Not to me anyway.
I would probably give Good Madam a solid 2½ and closer to 3 out of 5 after reading up on it. Because yes, I did find it fascinating enough that I wanted to read more about the background. However, any movie that requires me to read up on the symbolism and message afterward, hasn’t exactly managed to convey all that it should on its own.
This is the reason we end on 2½ and since we don’t do half-stars here, it ends on the too low 2 out of 5. However, as already stated, I did very much enjoy the ending.
Good Madam is out on Shudder from July 14, 2022.
Director: Jenna Cato Bass
Writers: Jenna Cato Bass, Chumisa Cosa, Nosipho Mtebe, Kamvalethu Jonas Raziya, Sanda Shandu, Khanyiso Kenqa, Sizwe Ginger Lubengu, Siya Sikawuti, Peggy Tunyiswa, Chris Gxalaba
Cast: Chumisa Cosa, Nosipho Mtebe, Kamvalethu Jonas Raziya, Sanda Shandu, Khanyiso Kenqa, Sizwe Ginger Lubengu, Siya Sikawuti, Peggy Tunyiswa, Chris Gxalaba
In Good Madam, Tsidi, a single mother, is forced to move in with her estranged mother Mavis, a live-in domestic worker caring obsessively for her catatonic white ‘Madam’ in an affluent Cape Town suburb. As Tsidi tries to heal her family however, a sinister specter begins to stir.