Huesera (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Huesera (2022) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on June 23rd, 2022 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Drama, Thriller, Mystery, Pregnancy, Dysfunctional Family, Folk Horror

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It's about a pregnant woman who is tormented by the supernatural entity La Huesera.

Huesera was directed by Michelle Garza Cervera (México Bárbaro II) and stars Natalia SoliánAlfonso DosalMayra BatallaMercedes Hernández (Belzebuth), Aida López, and Martha Claudia Moreno.

La Huesera (2022) Review

The bone woman, or La Huesera, is a Mexican folk tale of an older woman who wanders the desert and collects wolf bones. Once she has the animal's bones, she sings by the fire and brings the animal back to life. The legend frequently speaks of wolves who have been brought back to life, transforming into women and running off into the wilderness. Huesera has reimagined the story and placed it into a modern magical realism setting, examining the tangible fears and anxieties associated with becoming a mother. That means that while it does offer spooky images, it's more interested in psychology.

Valeria and her husband Raúl finally succeed in conceiving after a long period of trying and failing. The next step in their blissful lives is becoming parents; they're ecstatic for what's to come. As Valeria's pregnancy progresses, her anxiety and fears become more intense. These are made worse by strange visits from a creepy woman who seems to be trying to break into her home and other supernatural occurrences that no one else seems to notice. As everyone she knows questions her sanity, Valeria looks to her past for answers. Valeria looks to his past for answers as everyone around him questions his sanity.

The director uses graphic horror images to disrupt the tranquil facade that Valeria has built for herself. Instead, she seems content and fixated on her husband's well-being. So much so that she appears to change parts of herself to maintain his dreamy vision of her. Valeria hopelessly tries to hide her smoking habit, but an uncomfortable family dinner gives insight into how much of her she's kept from Raúl. Valeria's family is skeptical of her ability to raise a child, but they are unaware of the Huesera, an evil entity that torments her when she is alone.

Cervera employs the figure to create unsettling moments that generate tangible dread and suspense. More pronounced than the atmosphere, though, is the way the haunting figure is used as a tool to break open Valeria's psyche and unveil repressed emotions and fears. The horrendous image of Huesera and the cracking of bones, often emphasizing Valeria's nervous habit of knuckle-cracking, forces a terrifying confrontation within Valeria. Folklore becomes the central point of inner conflict, of Valeria is forced to come to terms with her identity and aspirations derailed long ago if she has any hope for her future.

As terrifying as some of those sequences can be, due to the potent sound design and the imagery itself, the horror elements are supplementary to Valeria's journey. It's a means of coercing Valeria to accept unpleasant truths, no matter how dangerous her denial becomes. The protagonist's emotional battle takes precedence, and Solián skilfully tackles the difficulties of attempting to maintain societal and familial expectations in the face of changing realities and weaknesses.

Worth Watching? 

Why are so many pregnancy movies focused on the mother-to-be, making her the center of attention and mistrusting everyone around her? In Huesera, the victim internalizes this behavior. It would be refreshing if more movies were less about motherhood and more about the loss of self, which this one does well. Cervera never forces the ambiguity of Huesera's torment, which means it's up to the sequences of scares to scare the audience. That the director uses a lot of restraint with the shocks, putting the drama at the forefront, means her feature debut is more horror related than outright horror. Even if Valeria's denial of what is happening puts her at a disadvantage, Cervera's strong debut pulls the viewer into Valeria's nightmare.

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