Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Huesera: The Bone Woman

Title: Huesera: The Bone Woman

Describe This Movie In One The Crow Quote:
ERIC DRAVEN: Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.
Brief Plot Synopsis: What to dissect when you're expecting.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 4.5 Jacob Singers out of 5
Tagline: "Motherhood is unexpected."

Better Tagline: "Well, it ain't Ozzie and Harriet."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Valeria (Natalia Solián) and her husband Raúl (Alfonso Dosal) have finally gotten pregnant after many attempts. And if the normal anxiety around the occasion wasn't enough, Valeria has started experiencing disturbing hallucinations that might be something more. Events finally reach a point where she's forced to consider desperate measures to rid herself of them.
"Critical" Analysis: Michelle Garza Cervara's Huesera: The Bone Woman is, hands down, one of the most chilling and visually arresting horror movies in recent memory, deftly weaving Mexican folklore together with modern concepts of maternity. The result will undoubtedly be included in discussion of the best genre pictures of 2023, if not as one of the best, period. 

Why is that? Horror movies about pregnancy aren't exactly novel, after all. From Rosemary's Baby to Titane, it's been easy to twist what is already an anxious and stressful time into something sinister or supernatural.

But where many of these films focus on baby-snatching cults or demonic parentage, Huesera asks the question: what if motherhood was actually ... whatever the opposite of "blessing" is. Valeria is decidedly unenthusiastic about the prospect of being a mom, despite (or perhaps because of) the reminders all around her. This lack of eagerness is all too clear in the opening scene, in which an unsure Valeria is joined by her mother and aunt on a fertility pilgrimage to a giant statue of the Virgin Mary (the Alpha Mom, if you will)

Many things can run through a pregnant woman's mind (or so I'm told); is this what I really want? Am I ready for this responsibility? Will I resent this kid for making me give up my carpentry workshop (Valeria is actually a carpenter)? Rarely do you also have to worry about hallucinations of shadowy figures skittering down hallways or about dead hands breaking your bones.
click to enlarge
"Heeeeere's Mommy."
Or could it be nothing more than Valeria pining for her carefree youth, when she liked girls and sang songs with lyrics like "I don't like domestication?" Some mysteries aren't too mysterious.

Cervera keeps us guessing, and there's definite uncertainty around whether the phenomena Valeria are experiencing are real or just a psychotic manifestation of her fears and regrets. It also helps that Solián and Dosal have such an easy chemistry. We believe Raúl cares for Valeria, which makes it that much harder for both of them when it becomes apparent he's much more excited about the impending child than she is.

As assured as the direction is and as effective as the scares are, it's hard to believe this is Michelle Garza Cervara's first film. She's a director we're going to be watching for a very long time, maybe as long as I fear Huesera is going to stick with me.

Huesera: The Bone Woman is in theaters today.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar