Due to unfortunate circumstances, Tsidi (Chumisa Cosa) and her daughter are forced to move in with her mother, Mavis (Nosipho Mtebe). Mavis works as a maid and general servant for somebody she refers to mostly as Madam. She also lives there and while she feels like her home is her own, she still has to follow a certain set of rules, as do the rest of the family.
Outraged by the way that her mother lives, Tsidi takes umbrage with her treatment and although Mavis says that she’s fine with it, it still plays on her mind. Particularly since Mavis’ mother lived during apartheid, a time that Tsidi would naturally want to move on from, but she finds that the past still has ripples.
Good Madam is a slow burn psychological horror exclusive to Shudder that was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. With the formula of what could have been an ordinary horror movie, director Jenna Cato Bass is able to talk about a side of South Africa which those outside of the country might never consider.
Drawing in its audience and presenting the issues that lie within is probably the kind of thing that some people may mark as ‘elevated horror’, however Good Madam is just good storytelling.
As Tsidi’s thoughts start to plague her mind, she feels like she might be hallucinating. Images appear in front of her and things start to happen to her own body. It’s starting to feel like Tsidi may be possessed.
However, among the creepy and shocking visuals lays a story that talks about the generational gap in South Africa and how the older generation were subjugated by apartheid and whether they liked it or not, some of them seemed to grow used to it. It talks about the guilt that Tsidi’s generation feels about not being able to stop it and the fear of it creeping back into her life before she even realises it.
Cosa gives a great performance and through Bass’ subtle direction, the story opens up the audience’s minds to the reality behind a country still learning to heal. Good Madam may not be the kind of thing that you’d expect to see on Shudder, but it is a rewarding experience.
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