Huesera (2022)

Director: Michelle Garza Cervera
Writer: Michelle Garza Cervera, Abia Castillo
Cast: Natalia Solián, Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla, Enoc Leaño, Samantha Castillo, Sonia Couoh, Martha Claudia Moreno, Aida López, Mercedes Hernández, Anahí Allué, Pablo Guisa Koestinger
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2022

Content Note: animal death

Valeria (Natalia Solián) and Raúl (Alfonso Dosal) have been trying to conceive for a while and finally, finally it worked. Valeria is happy, or so she thinks. But soon darkness overshadows her pregnancy: she keeps seeing a spider-like woman. Her family doesn’t believe that she is cut out to be a mother. And maybe she isn’t?

Huesera moves very slowly, but it is perfectly designed to produce anxiety in its slowness. And with its questioning of motherhood as a norm, it’s also thought-provoking, culminating in a fantastic ending.

The film poster showing a skeleton without legs and head, but holding two skulls in its outstreteched hands, resembling ovaries and uterus.

Huesera leans heavily on the sound of cracking bones. I crack my knuckles a lot myself, but that didn’t mean immunity from this well-employed device. I can understand everybody better now who flinches when they hear me cracking. It’s rather unnerving here. The bone-cracking spider-creature (from what I gather, la huesera is a Mexican myth, a bone woman, or a spider woman) isn’t just creepy, though, she’s also highly symbolic for Valeria’s feelings about motherhood.

The film captures Valeria’s increasing sense of alienation from herself through the pregnancy and impending motherhood. It’s not just the physical changes, or maybe those the least, but it starts with Valeria, who builds furniture for a living, putting away her tools and converting her workshop into the child’s room. It seems that there is literally no room for her outside of being a mother anymore. And this brings Valeria back to an even earlier version of herself – a punk version in love with Octavia (Mayra Batalla) which appears to be the first time that Valeria lost herself to fit in better with the world and its expectations of her. Solián’s performance does this complex character all justice.

Valeria (Natalia Solián) standing in the door of the children's room, looking at an empty crib.

Finally, Valeria attempts witchcraft to get rid of la huesera, and the session with the witches was maybe a little too symbolic to be penetrable, but it didn’t matter. It was visually so absolutely stunning that I could only love it. Especially since it arrived at an ending that was so fucking fantastic, I wanted to stand up and clap.

In short, Michelle Garza Cervera delivered a really impressive, feminist debut with this film that doesn’t feel like a debut at all.

Valeria (Natalia Solián) looking at herself in the mirror. She is reflected three times.

Summarizing: excellent.

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