Huesera: The Bone Woman
Joint Eater, Contributor
Dir. Michelle Garza Cervera (2022)
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes Huesera so enthralling, but the moment the movie starts, it has a way of pulling you away from your comfy chair in your living room and into theculture-rich streets of Mexico. It is here that we are introduced to Valeria, an expecting mother,
and her and her husband, Raúl, are overjoyed at the news, Valeria cannot shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right, and as time goes on, we find that something sinister may be after her (and her baby).
From the very beginning, Huesera is very up front about what it is: A movie about regrets and the fear of motherhood. We meet Valeria in a time where she thinks she should be happy. She has put wild days of her teenage years behind her, went to school, got a husband, and now is expecting a baby, but instead of happiness, she feels a growing sense of anxiety, which often
manifests itself as a nasty knuckle-popping habit. The bone-breaking monster of the film is a direct (if not somewhat on the nose) manifestation of her anxiety. It is no coincidence that the first appearance of the monster is after a conversation with her family in which they joke about how terrible of a mother she is going to be.
Throughout the film, Valeria is being split in two by the life she has and the life she could have had. With every appearance of the monster, her husband, once loving and supportive, becomes seemingly more distant, pushing Valeria to try and capture some of the excitement from her teenage years by rekindling a romance between her and her ex-girlfriend, Octavia, who she had once planned to run away with, and she becomes more and more wary of the baby growing inside her.
The film does an excellent job of bringing you into the mind of Valeria. When she is overwhelmed, the film’s score and visuals make it hard focus on anything happening on the screen. When she feels alone, the music fades and the camera zooms out with no one nearby, and when she is anxious, it zooms in, almost too close, and these scenes often crescendo with the monster making its appearance.
For me, while the scenes containing the monster were unnerving, the monster was weakest part of the film. In many other films like Huesera, the question of whether or not the character is insane or the monster is real is up for interpretation, but in this film, the monster appears so seldomly that you can almost forget that it’s there, and when the monster does do something it always does it to where Valeria could have done it or where there was no proof of its existence. At no point in the film was I convinced that the monster was real, not even when a ritual was performed to cleanse Valeria of her haunting. The monster itself and its motivations were never
fleshed out, and the last section of the movie focused very heavily on abstract imagery rather than taking a moment to explain what was going on. So, while it was clear what the monster meant in regard to the overall theme of the story, what it was in the story itself was a little muddled, though some of my confusion is likely due to my lack of knowledge of the entity from Mexican folklore that this monster comes from.
Who this movie is for: Foreign Horror Movie Fans, People looking for a few scares but not too many, People looking for a horror movie with a legitimately good story
Bottom line: Huesera is a fantastic story about the affects of anxiety and the pressures of trying to balance the life you want and the life you feel you are supposed to have. It has enough horror to keep horror fans satisfied, but enough story and emotional beats to keep those interested in dramas and thrillers invested as well.