The star of Michelle Garza Cervera’s narrative debut, Huesera, is Natalia Solián’s vary of facial expressions. The actress performs Valeria Hernandez, the protagonist of this chilling physique horror, with a sly, concentrated dedication. See the flash of disgust in her eyes as she meets the gaze of a kid playfully contorting their face at a health care provider’s workplace. Look at her lips twitch when she learns of her being pregnant. Watch her face fall on the considered changing her carpentry workshop right into a nursery.
It’s honest to say that Valeria doesn’t need a little one. And it’s no stretch to proclaim that Huesera mainly considerations itself with the emotional knots of her being pregnant and its eventual strains on her subsequent motherhood. But that’s solely skimming the floor of Cervera’s work. Dig deeper and Huesera reveals itself to be a wilier movie — an astute examine of need and self-deception.
The Bottom Line
A nimble and chilling physique horror.
Society’s expectations hang-out Valeria, who, firstly of the movie, desperately needs to get pregnant. She sojourns to a shrine devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the place she leaves an providing and prays for a kid. Her actions are soundtracked by a refrain, whose rendition of the favored Mexican hymn “La Guadalupana,” a music concerning the virgin mom, adopts a sinister tone. The digital camera pans out to point out the total statue of Guadalupe earlier than fading to a different scene, the place a equally formed determine stands ablaze.
The transition primes us for the darkish and twisting turns Huesera will take and anchors us within the ambiance of Mexico City, however it doesn’t put together us for the movie’s genuinely terrifying moments — those that recast acquainted occasions as malevolent occurrences. Valeria and her husband, Raúl (Alfonso Dosal), spend the times after her journey anxiously awaiting the outcomes of a current being pregnant take a look at. When the couple finds out they’re formally anticipating, elation is shortly changed by anxiousness. Cribs have to be purchased, rooms renovated, members of the family paid visits.
As Valeria performs these rituals, her stomach swells and the nightmarish eventualities start. Dead our bodies present up, phantoms incessantly ring her doorbell and Valeria wakes up mysteriously bruised and sprained. The child she carries has been seized by an evil spirit, intent on tormenting her. In this manner, Huesera excitedly follows within the custom of movies like Rosemary’s Baby or the quick tales of Argentine author Samanta Schweblin — works that play with the connection between pregnant our bodies and demonic forces, and, on a deeper stage, anxieties about motherhood and bodily autonomy.
The hazard of corporeal revolt mangles Valeria’s sense of actuality. The line between actual life and fantasy blurs. What reads as paranoia units in. She makes more and more questionable selections. Cervera, who cowrote Huesera‘s screenplay with Abia Castillo, nimbly layers the horrors of Valeria’s being pregnant (and later of motherhood) with requisite backstory. This private historical past reveals the diploma to which Valeria’s selections — to marry Raúl, to have a child — quantity to main acts of self-betrayal.
But might she assist it? In a household atmosphere as constricting as Valeria’s — her mother and father sigh audible breaths of aid on the news of her being pregnant; her older sister hates her — had been different decisions doable? These are a couple of of the questions rippling beneath the floor of Huesera, which examines — though much less stodgily than the phrase implies — society’s horrid expectations of girls. Valeria’s aunt, Isabel (Mercedes Hernández), and former pal Octavia (Mayra Batalla) supply consolation and function examples of alternate decisions. These are girls who defied the norms and molded paths extra reflective of their true selves.
Solián’s sensible efficiency is pushed by a confidence and sensitivity to her character’s relationship to society, to the truth that Valeria needs she wished her standard life. The actress’ expressions and physique language convey an intimacy with the grooves of her character. This understanding makes Valeria’s progressively erratic conduct really feel extra urgent, upping the stakes of an already disquieting story.
Huesera premiered on the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, the place Cervera took residence the Nora Ephron Award (for finest feminine filmmaker) and the prize for finest new narrative director. These are becoming accolades for somebody who, with Huesera, urgently publicizes herself as an artist value watching.