Title: Huesera: The Bone Woman
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Michelle Garza Cervera
Starring: Natalia Solián, Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla
Runtime: 1 hr 37 mins
What It Is: Valeria (Solián) is a young woman who enjoys her life as a woodworker and wife after living a previously more alternative lifestyle. In the effort to please her husband Raúl and her judgemental family, Valeria strives towards a normal family life and becomes pregnant. Despite her initial passion and excitement for the incoming bundle of joy, Valeria begins to experience terrifying nightmares that fold into her daily life that cause her to doubt reality itself, leaving her isolated as her family, friends, and husband question her sanity and ability to become a dependable mother. As the Valeria’s haunting experiences become more lucid and violent, she rushes to search for a cure in the spiritual realm in order to protect her newborn from the very thing that should be caring for it: herself.
What We Think: If you’re a fan of film that expands, explores, and/or delves into the complex, isolating, and often horrifying emotional odyssey that come with being pregnant, films/projects such as Mother!, Prevenge, Inside (2007), Rosemary’s Baby, The Yellow Wallpaper, In the Tall Grass, and Swallow, Huesera is certainly one to add to the niche. I would also very much compare it to films like The Babadook. As a horror movie, it stands strong as its creeps and scares are delivered with fine-tuned pacing and framing, not to mention supported by fantastically crunchy, bone-y sound design that adds another layer of grotesqueness to Valeria’s experience being pregnant as an intense, visceral condition. The severity and surreality this is also very well translated into the inevitable display of psychological horror, blurring reality as she dissociates, splitting into the “Bone Woman” persona that controls and defies her surface-level desire to be a perfect woman in the eyes of those who are important to her, and the need to be the perfect maternal figure. It is again another devastating view at a young woman taken not only by extreme circumstances disguised as “normal” but the loneliness that comes with them. These themes and elements are set and stone and admittedly predictable, but thanks to the powerhouse cast and lead actress’s incredible performances, gorgeous cinematography, and gripping atmosphere, it’s worth seeing the concept be re-expanded through the eyes of Valeria. Enjoyable as a horror film, but also eye-opening with the very real, very blatant interpretation of depression and post-partum, this film is confidently worth the viewing.
Our Grade: B+, A cool, beautifully-made and personal horror film made for and about women and those who love them: Huesera: The Bone Woman has much to bring to the table as a tale about one woman’s intimidating coming-of-age journey into apprehensive motherhood, combining elements discussing spirituality, anxiety, issues with traditionalism in society and how it affects the individuals who try to fit into those impossible ideals, and of course, body horror. Valeria serves as an admirably realistic character: interestingly withdrawn, polite, and introverted, whose personality comes out in the quietest of moments, and turns out to be quite punk herself. The characters, never truly villianized or romanticized, have fleshy dynamics that feel important to watch and understand in order to continue navigating and building safer environments to those going through the extreme, terrifying, gross, and powerful undertaking that is bringing new life into the world.