This article reveals the explained plot and the detailed events in 2022 Korean movie Umma – Mother, directed by Iris K. Shim, revealing its meaning, ending and storyline. We recommend you to read it only after watching the movie, and not before, in order to preserve the pleasure of the first vision.
Umma is Korean for Mother, a 2022 horror movie produced in Korea. It’s a movie about the mother-daughter relationship, that crosses three generations, starting from he spirit of the Korean grandma that has recently died and haunts the mother, Amanda, living with the daughter, Chris. The plot of the movie sometimes become highly symbolic, and the ending could look unclear, so it can be natural to look for the explanation. In this article we will discuss the storyline and the ending.
Umma: the plot simply explained
Amanda lives in a isolated house together with her daughter, Chris. The daughter has no friends, her mom homeschools her, they run a honey business together. Amanda has also a sort of allergy to electricity, so they try to keep away all strangers. But one day, a man comes with a big suitcase containing the ashes of Amanda’s mom, who she called Umma. The man accuses Amanda to have abandoned Umma and now her spirit cannot rest and will haunt her.
This is what actually happens. Supernatural events start to happen in the house. Umma is angry with Amanda. She says that Amanda hurt her so much, that at some point she had to give her the same pain, physically, by electrocution, in order to let her understand what her mother felt. We learns that Umma moved in United States from Korea, but she struggled a lot, until her husband left her. She then poured out all her anger and frustration on young Amanda, torturing her. When Amanda got pregnant of Chris, she left and promised herself to never become like Umma.
Gradually, during the movie, we start to identify some similarities between the Amanda-Chris relationship and the old Umma-Amanda one. Amanda lives completely alone with Chris. She doesn’t want her to leave and she’s very disappointed when she discovers that Chris applied to college. We learn that the allergy to electricity is not real, understanding that it’s a subconscious mechanism Amanda has to remain isolated from the outer world. She also sacrificed her whole life to her daughter Chris and she’s hurt if Chris wants to leave, like Umma was when she left.
There is a tough confrontation between Amanda and Chris in the garden, where we can see the aggressive temper of Amanda towards her daughter: Amanda says explicitely that Chris is not able to live alone without her, and that she won’t survive without her mom. Chris accuses her to force their life to stay isolated by making up her allergy. In this moment Amanda is not possessed by Umma, but we understand that her behavious is heavily influenced by the unresolved issues she has with her own mom, Umma.
When Umma possesses Amanda, we understand her priorities: the family has to recognize their Korean heritage, paying respect to the ancestors. When Chris complains, she becomes severe, accusing her to be a disobedient girl and explaining that punishing a daughter by inflicting her pain is the only way to let her understand the pain they cause to mothers when they misbehave.
Chris manages to free Amanda from Umma’s possession and the two reconcile. This brings us to the ending of the movie, where the plot get to its resolution.
Umma ending explained
Amanda has a direct confrontation with Umma’s spirit. With a big effort, she now tries to resolve the open conflict with her and the part of inner herself that comes from Umma. She recognizes that Umma’s life was unfair, she was forced to leave her country and raise her child alone. Neverheless, she also explains that Umma was unfair to her, and she had to leave, in order to guarantee a normal life to her daughter Chris. Therefore, while Amanda makes peace with Umma, recognizing her as her mother, and recognizing the heritage she gave her, she also says clearly that they cannot stay together. Umma has to accept it and leave.
Umma accepts this explanation and says that she can finally move on and be at peace with everything. As a immediate consequence, Amanda and Chris now agree about pretty much everything: they pay respect to Umma together, recognizing in this way the Korean heritage, and Amanda is fine with Chris’ decision to go to college. Also the allergy to electricity is now gone: we see Amanda totally fine next to a phone. This means symbolically that Amanda resolved the inner conflict she had so far.
The symbols of the movie
Umma has a meaningful psychological dimension: the unresolved conflicts with our parents can affect our life a lot: Amanda was living a unhealthy life, isolated from anyone, and somehow was forcing Chris to live in an innatural way, replicating partially what her mother did to her. She spent all her efforts to refuse her Korean culture (she didn’t teach Korean to Chris) and that increased the conflict.
Once we do this huge effort to solve the conflict and make peace with our parent, many issues get solved automatically and we can go on living in a healthier way. Of course this can be very complicated: especially when our parents were bad with us, this implies to understand their reasons and do our best to forgive them.
This is what Amanda did. And this resolved the conflict and the haunting. Life can now start again under a newly acquired normality.