Tribeca 2022: ‘Huesera’ Showcases The Horrors Of Domestic Entrapment With A Frightening Twist

Motherhood is tough. Motherhood in the context of both inescapable trapped feelings and supernatural menaces? Even tougher. Huesera, premiering at the Tribe
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ca Film Festival, showcases both in a tense tale that uses horror to explore feelings that are very real and immensely hard to explore on film. It’s a stunningly portrayed cinematic outing that’s big on tension and mood (albeit a little light in scares), and absolutely worth watching.

After a real effort to have a child, Valeria (a wonderful Natalia Solián) and Raul (Alfonso Dosal) are finally having a child. Valeria should feel ecstatic, but she can’t shake a malaise she can’t quite explain… and that’s before she sees something truly horrific and inexplicable from across her window, the appearance of spider-like… somethings, bad dreams. She realizes that an entity known as La Huesera may have its eyes set on her, and she’s got to find a way to exorcise it from her life.

It’s a wonderful feature outing from director Michelle Garza Cervera, who explores a number of complex feelings in the film’s efficient runtime. From Valeria’s unease with the complex and joyous entrapment of motherhood to her nostalgia for the lesbian relationship of her wilder youth (with echoes of the phrase “I don’t like domestication!” repeated in her youthful memories), these aren’t easy themes to wrestle with and Cervera tackles them well using well developed horror trappings.

Solián is riveting as the trapped Valeria, navigating inescapable horrors both domestic and otherworldly. She has a real vulnerability that lands the film’s emotional moments alongside her growing unease and terror, and she has great chemistry with both Dosal and her former love Octavia (Mayra Batalla). It’s a thoroughly strong performance that really grounds the film until it really gets going in the final act, and while the film really is her story (and rightfully so) Raul is curiously absent from the bulk of the film in a way that makes you think… why, when his baby is so threatened?

It’s a rather claustrophobic film, centered in and around her home and those of her loved ones in a way that adds well to the feelings of entrapment and terror, though the cinematography adds enough variation and color to make the screen pop and keep things from feeling stale. The sound design compliments this overall strategy with unsettling uses of simple sound to signal something’s awry (if you could tolerate the sound of knuckle and bone popping, you won’t after Huesera). For most of the runtime the film boasts a stellar command of mood, and the ending has some truly haunting and memorable (shocking, even) imagery that you really have to see. At the same time, it’s eerie, yes, but there are definitely missed opportunities to ramp up scares and tension.

Altogether, Huesera is an adeptly made film backed by a wonderful central performance. It really pulls the viewer in and lands some shocking imagery in its conclusion, although it’s lacking a little in the horror department. As a moody exploration of a complex but very real rejection of domesticity, however, Huesera is absolutely worth watching and a stunner of an outing.

Huesera had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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