Review: Madres (2021)

Madres (2021)

Directed by: Ryan Zaragoza | minutes | horror | Actors: Elpidia Carrillo, Tenoch Huerta, Kerry Cahill, Ariana Guerra, Jennifer Patino, Britton Webb, Evelyn Gonzalez, Ashleigh Lewis, René Mena, Robert Larriviere, Betsy Borrego, Rachel Whitman Groves, Amelia Rico, Joseph Garcia, Sam Fisicaro, Leydi Morales , Harlon Miller

‘Madres’ is set in the 1970s and is loosely based on true events. We follow pregnant Maria and her partner Beto, who move from busy Los Angeles to a migrant community in rural California. Although at first glance they end up in a rustic and harmonious environment, Diana soon discovers that there is a sinister snag that mainly affects the Latin American women who work on the farm where Beto also earns his money. Over time, Diana experiences terrifying, fertility-related visions that make her fear for the life of her unborn child. Mysterious whispers also speak of a dark curse that haunts the Latino community…

‘Madres’ is a film that suffers from an identity crisis. Presented and marketed as a horror film, it is actually more of a mix of thriller and drama, topped with a bland-tasting horror sauce. The paranormal and ghostly elements are fairly blasé and actually have hardly any function or added value for the story. The use of repetitive shock effects and hardly subtle visual language has little effect and often even kills the tension. It also doesn’t help that the narration is slow and the film is actually too long. The latter is in any case a recurring point in many films that are released under the banner of ‘Welcome to the Blumhouse’: they are mostly ideas that are perfectly suitable for a short film, but lack the substance, tension or spectacle to make a small one and a half. to stay interesting for hours.

Because there are all kinds of (interesting and less fascinating) subplots that die in good intentions, ‘Madres’ never gets a nice storytelling rhythm and the film often feels fragmented. Remarkably, the thematic twist in the final minutes reveals “real world horrors” that are a lot more disturbing than anything the creators throw at us the rest of the time. The mystery brewing under the skin is intriguing, sickening and shocking, but sadly remains largely untouched. As a result, ‘Madres’ remains a flat and unanimated film full of untapped potential.

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