Madres (2021)

Director: Ryan Zaragoza

Running Time: 83 Minutes

Starring: Ariana Guerra, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Elpidia Carrillo, Robert Larriviere, Kerry Cahill, Jason Bayle, Jennifer Patino

My review of Madres was first published at Bloody Good Screen.

Among 2021’s quartet of Welcome To The Blumhouse offerings, Ryan Zaragoza directs the most down-to-Earth inclusion for the third instalment. The 1970’s set tale follows Diana and Beto (Ariana Guera and Tenoch Huerta), a Mexican-American couple who move to a Californian farming-community before the birth of their firstborn child.

Despite mangling American sayings, Beto takes to the new community rather quickly while Diana feels like an outsider. Other Mexican-Americans look down upon her for not knowing the language, although those worries disappear when Diana develops unusual symptoms along with horrific visions. The arrival of these elements makes her fear for her oncoming baby.

In their house, the couple discover papers which previously belonged to the former resident. Reading through them, Diana believes the community residents are becoming sick due to pesticides while Beto believes the local legend regarding a curse. This captures the couple rather well, as the wife looks for a rational explanation while her religious husband believes in the supernatural. When such effortless performances go into this charming couple, it’s easy to root for them as their hopes for a better life become unfortunately hampered.

Screenwriters Mario Miscione and Marcella Ochoa try to keep viewers guessing as to what’s the cause, and it’s unfortunate the feature leans so much into the ghostly elements. These instances paint the tale a bog-standard haunting when it’s biding time until the eventual revelation as to what’s happening. What’s revealed isn’t a surprise although is appropriately horrifying, as the last act becomes the strongest when grappling with a very real issue overlooked by history. It’s a shame these final instances arrive too late, saved for a twist ending rather than being a much-earlier focus.