Valeria (Natalia Solian) is a vibrant young woman who is excited to have her first child with her boyfriend, Raul (Alfonso Dosal). However, her joy and anticipation begin to dissipate when she begins having terrifying visions that plague her. Believing that she may be cursed with a supernatural entity called La Huesara, Valeria seeks help from other women who may be able to help. As her suffering gets worse, she reconnects with a lost love in Octavia (Mayra Batalla) and prays for the madness to end.
Set in the heart of Mexico, Huesara is a terrifying exploration of the fears of motherhood. Written and directed by Michelle Garca Cervera, the film is bold in its visuals and themes, choosing to draw connections between the darkness of anxiety and the light of love. As Valeria, Solian does a good job walking the tightrope of styles on display, ranging from psychological torment to rediscovering passion.
Ironically though, this willingness to move between styles is where the film struggles.
Part psychological thriller, part demonic horror with a romantic love triangle thrown in the middle, the film veers wildly in tone. Choosing to blend indie romance with spiritual horror, Cervera creates an interesting juxtaposition but the mixture doesn’t always work. Even so, while choosing one style might’ve helped the film feel more focused, one must admit that the three storylines do connect effectively by the film’s finale.
At its core, Huesara is a film about fear for the future. While mother to be Valeria may be excited about her newborn, her world gradually begins to fall apart. Although the film is willing to lean into its body horror elements as it progresses, much of its terror throughout is in the mind. As her anxiety about taking responsibility for a newborn begins to take hold, this unique exploration of terror is willing to sit in its darkness as Valeria attempts to make sense of her deepest questions. We understand that the questions in actresses heart plague her mind and are blowing the minds blurring the lines between reality and fear. Who am I going to be as a mother? Have I made a mistake in my life decisions? Is my own child even safe in my arms? These painful questions are deeply seated within her and bring terror to her soul.
By leaning into its more horror-based elements, Huesara gives voice to important issues such as postpartum depression and maternal fear. It is rare for a film to be willing to delve into these issues, even though they also affect countless mothers who need to be represented. Visuals such as a woman leaping from her window reveal the inner pain from which many suffer in silence. In this way, there’s a maturity about the film which is admirable.
In the end, Huesara is a bit of a mixed experience. While the film often feels disjointed in its tone, so too is it a film that carries an edge of importance to it. This is not simply a scare-fest but an opportunity to speak into the feminine experience from multiple angles.
Huesara is available at FantasiaFest ‘22. For screening information, click here.