The wonderful thing about international cinema is that it showcases that emotions and storytelling are universal experiences. International horror films, in particular, share in this theory because, well…fear, itself, is universal. Such is the case for the Mexican horror film, HUESERA: THE BONE WOMAN. Written by Abia Castillo and Michelle Garza Cervera, who also directed the film, this striking drama is only amplified by its dive into occult and body horror.
The film follows a couple, Valeria (Natalia Solián) and her husband Raúl (Alfonso Dosal), who discover that they are expecting their first baby. Valeria, however, has doubts about motherhood manifesting in shocking and effective ways.
The film is beautiful. Its up-and-coming director of photography, Nur Rubio Sherwell, captures the sense of captivity and oppression surrounding Valeria at all times. The film swims in an ominous and claustrophobic sea of tension, despair, and a genuine sense of dread. Co-writer and director Michelle Garza Cervera understands the story’s stakes and portrays them with a masterful blend of terror and empathy.
As Valeria, Natalia Solián is all at once spirited, heartbroken, and heartbreaking. Playing the film as a strong drama with highlights of horror, she achieves every single complicated emotion Valeria is forced to endure and takes the audience right along with her. She carries the massive weight of the bulk of the storyline, which is no small feat. As her well-meaning but unhelpful husband Raúl, Alfonso Dosal accomplishes the difficult task of playing a likable character who behaves in unlikable ways. The entire cast is excellent.
The film has gotten early festival buzz, and for good reason. It’s emotional, scary, heartfelt, and very bold. This is a story that could (and should) only have been told properly by a team of talented and inspired female creators. They leave us with a breathless and overwhelmed feeling that sinks down to the bones.
HUESERA: THE BONE WOMAN is currently in theaters throughout the US. It will begin streaming on SHUDDER February 16th.