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HUESERA: THE BONE WOMAN (2022)
Directed by Michelle Garza Cervera.
Written by Michelle Garza Cervera, Abia Castillo, Patricio Saiz.
Starring Mayra Batalla, Alfonso Dosal, Natalia Solian, Martha Claudia Moreno, Sonia Couoh, Samantha Castillo, Mercedes Hernandez, Aida Lopez, Pablo Guisa Koestinger, Enoc Leano, Anahi Allue, Gabriela Velarde
HUESERA begins with good news. Valeria (Natalia Solián) and her husband Raul (Alfonso Dosal) find out that after seemingly trying for a while, they finally find out that they are going to have a baby. But soon after the pregnancy is confirmed, it’s made clear that while Raul is over the moon about the news, Valeria has some reservations. She’s got a lot of reservations and not only does she not think she wants a baby, but she doesn’t know if she wants to be married. Both her family and her former girlfriend Octavia (Mayra Batalla) trying to be supportive, but they also have concerns about Valeria’s mental health and well being, having seen her around children in the past and knowing her much more than Raul thinks he does. Valeria’s aunt sees much more than that. It seems an ancient curse named Huesera may be taking hold of Valeria’s soul, which means horrible things for the baby.
HUESERA: THE BONE WOMAN is a subtle horror from Mexico that leans heavily on drama and psychology. It’s about a woman attempting to find herself when everyone around her has differing understandings of who she is and what she wants. Those around her project their own wishes on Valeria, and Valeria, being confused and mentally and physically strained, allows this—making her ultimately unhappy and vulnerable to the dark forces of the evil spirit, Huesera. This seems like a case of pre-partum or prenatal depression, where Valeria is miserable through her pregnancy taking all kinds of risks and intentionally doing things to sabotage her relationship with Raul and the baby. Valeria is often in some form of denial, forgetting she’s pregnant and fantasizes about what it was like before she was tied to Raul in this relationship. I think in many ways, this film addresses issues that many women suffer during pregnancy but are too afraid to say out loud given that being pregnant is often looked at as such a blessing to so many people.
That said, while there are a lot of nightmares, hallucinations, and creepy things happening in the latter half of HUESERA, the bulk of the film leans heavy on drama. This is a serious film, rarely taking a moment for levity or even mild happiness. It’s a film that is going to hit those with children the hardest because of the complex emotions it puts to light. That said, many will nope out of this film by the halfway point because so much of it is just Valeria moping around and crying. The latter half has thrilling scenes with haunting imagery such as mysterious shadow figures in the distance watching Valeria, some strange nightmares where Valeria’s bones are being broken, and an especially gnarly mass of arms and legs that appears during the climax. But those moments are few and far between. For the most part, it is Valeria attempting to cope with the pregnancy and making very bad decisions along the way.
This is an emotional rollercoaster for Valeria and actress Natalia Solián does a fantastic job of making her role sympathetic despite the self-destructive things she is doing. It helps that the dark feelings are given an entity to embody, namely the titular evil spirit. But still, it is a testament to her performance that I never felt angry toward Valeria despite the horrifying things she does. While the resolution to Valeria’s problem may not be the most Hollywood of endings, it is the most logical given this situation. But I could see a lot of people having some disdain towards the film by the time the credits roll.<br.
HUESERA is not an easy movie to get through. It’s often slow and methodically paced to embody the depression Valeria burdens all the way through. Those who don’t mind experiencing the lives of others, no matter how soul-shattering that experience may be would be the target audience for this one. But steel yourself. This is some heavy, dramatic material that may evoke emotions you didn’t know you had and may not feel comfortable embodying. HUESERA: THE BONE WOMAN is a highly effective dramatic horror reminiscent of the arduous terrifying gutpunch I felt while watching POSSESSION. Yeah, it’s that heavy.</br.
Check out the trailer here!!