Huesera: The Bone Woman – Horror Review
Valeria has long dreamed about becoming a mother. After learning that she's pregnant, she expects to feel happy, yet something's off.
Welcome to Knockout Horror and to a Horror Movie Review. Today we are taking a look at another Pregnancy Themed Horror movie. Coming by way of Mexico and Peru. We are checking out Huesera: The Bone Woman. Man has this movie ever been getting some love from critics? People are raving about it. We have covered a lot of pregnancy themed horror movies as of late. We actually put together a list that you can check out right now. 6 Pregnancy Themed Horror Movies.
I feel like pregnancy is a horror theme that is more common than people realise. There seems to be a new pregnancy based horror coming out every year. Hell, Huesera is the third one in the past 12 months. They all seem to explore the same ideas. All adding very little to the formula. The vast majority all have the same message and end in the same way. There is a distinct risk of this becoming a somewhat tired and repetitive topic.
With consideration to recent issues related to female bodily autonomy in the US. There is a chance we will see a lot more horror focusing on this topic. The question is, will it ask more daring questions and attack the subject more head on? That remains to be seen. Does today’s movie, Huesera: The Bone Woman, offer anything new? Well, according to critics, it does. According to me, not so much. Let’s take a look.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – Pregnancy Themed Horror
Huesera: The Bone Woman follows the story of Valeria. After attempting to become pregnant for some time. Valeria and her husband Raúl finally receive good news. They are expecting a child. Everything seems to be going fine, though Valeria is experiencing trouble adjusting. She can no longer work as a carpenter due to the chemicals used. And has to give up things she enjoys. While sleeping one night, she wakes suddenly. Heading outside to the balcony. She sees a woman jump from a nearby window. Valeria looks on in horror as the woman’s body lies broken on the floor. Is this a bad omen or something altogether more sinister?
Pregnancy is a common theme in horror and for good reason. Naturally, it is a nerve wracking and difficult time for an expecting mother. Replete with its own set of concerns and fears. It is a human condition ripe for exploiting with horror themes. Whereas movies like The Womb and Rosemary’s Baby focus on stories of new mothers. Keen to prevent harm coming to their unborn child. Movies like Baby Ruby and Delivery focus more on the complications of pregnancy. As well as the expectations that come with being a new mum. Whether they be fears over the unborn child or topics like post partum depression.
Huesera feels very similar, in terms of execution, to the aforementioned Baby Ruby. Spending a lot of time illustrating the difficulties of impending motherhood. The changes in a woman’s body. The giving up of things you used to enjoy and what not. The movie combines very real world issues with those of the supernatural. Engaging heavily in visual allegories and haunting imagery. It can be quite effective but, also, feels extremely familiar.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – A Deep Character Study
This is a movie that leans heavily into the character study of Valeria. Formerly an alternative girl living a rebellious life. She has now settled into a mundane and predictable existence. Working as a carpenter and trying for a baby. She has placed her former days of punk clubs and hedonistic living behind her. It is only when she finally falls pregnant. That she really begins to miss her old life. This is a topic that is sure to ring true for a lot of mothers.
When you become pregnant. The expectations of the world and the people around you are never more clear. A woman is expected to give up much of what made them individuals. Instead focusing on the child they have brought into the world. The sacrifice they make goes far beyond that of simply carrying a child and giving birth. It also goes far beyond that of new fathers. Most of which are able to maintain much of their identity. As well as the ways of living they had established before. Valeria’s family appear to doubt her ability. In turn, she doubts herself. As the pressures of impending parenthood become too much. Valeria questions the choices she has made. As she does that. A being that haunts Valeria begins to torment her more and more.
Michelle Cervera does a nice job of exploring the forbidden dark side of motherhood. Much like Baby Ruby. Huesera places a focus on the unfair expectations placed on new mothers. As well as the societal strain that makes it oh so difficult to ask for help. Valeria is not a natural parent. She needs help but can’t find it. Desperately shouting to a world that refuses to acknowledge the difficulties women face. It is an important subject to discuss. Pushing the horror elements to the side for much of its length. This is a movie keen to tell a story. A story which many women will be far too familiar with.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – Lacking in Subtlety
Despite the importance of the subject matter at hand here. Huesera isn’t exactly breaking the mould with its message. This is a common theme echoed repeatedly in cinema. We have covered a number of films focusing on the complications of parenthood. We have also covered plenty of films reflecting the issues of pregnancy. It is easy pickings, if you will, for movie makers looking for something to say. Huesera doesn’t do anything particularly new. At times it can be painfully blunt and rather obvious in its delivery. There isn’t much subtlety to characters collectively shouting “I don’t like domestication”. Especially when contrasted against the stark reality of Valeria’s current life. Still, this is a deeply personal message that will resonate with many.
Cervera manages to address the topic fairly well. And in a slightly more interesting manner than similar horror movies. Presenting Valeria as a character far more determined to discover herself. A character determined to be more in touch with what she actually wants. Rather than what society wants for her. Unashamed to find it and willing to accept it when it is front of her. The metaphors here can feel a little heavy handed and bit clumsy. But it is still satisfying to see the conclusion. Especially given the fact that it usurps what many will expect. Triumphantly thumbing its nose at the societal expectations that the movie discusses.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – Hard to Recommend to Horror Fans
Still, with all of that being said. Horror is not the best genre for deep dives into societal issues. It is difficult to ignore the parts of this movie that feel all too familiar. There are only so many ways to portray this type of character. The theme of an expectant mother. Suddenly burdened with questions about whether this is what she actually wants. Doesn’t exactly offer much room for nuance. Especially when there is a demand for horror imagery. Imagery that, perhaps, feels somewhat out of place. The subject matter here can feel at odds with the delivery. Something that will likely leave many horror fans wanting.
This is something that, as a horror movie review site, is impossible to ignore. It is also something that many horror fans are pointing out about this movie. The horror element here takes a back seat. For the most part, this is a story about a woman’s struggles with parenthood. The horror aspect is not something that takes centre stage. It is difficult to recommend to all horror fans. Much like The Babadook, it is a movie that uses horror as a vehicle. Scares are not the destination.
Huesera does have its moments, however. It is most effective when leaning in to elements of body horror. Twisted and broken limbs contort horrifically. Bones tear through skin and crack viscerally. It is powerful stuff and manages to impact the viewer in a number of ways. Despite this, it is not the primary focus of the movie. A couple of scenes may induce a few chills. They will be quickly forgotten, however. The movie, once again, reminding you that this is a drama. Far more concerned with its message than its ability to impart fear. This will be absolutely fine for some horror fans. For others, however, it will simply feel lacking.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – A Critical Darling
This movie has been an absolute critical darling. Much like another movie I recently reviewed – She Dies Tomorrow. It really highlights the difference between what critics look for in a movie. And what viewers want to see. I, personally, review movies as a viewer. I don’t class myself as a critic. From a critical standpoint. There is a lot to praise with Huesera: The Bone Woman. It has an important message. It is a visually fantastic movie. Completely unafraid of presenting a character that subverts expectations. While also offering a considered feminist view on the subject matter at hand. All things that critics look for in a movie and all things deserving of praise.
For people looking for a horror movie, however. There may not be enough to grab onto, here. The horror elements are fairly weak. The words “just about enough horror imagery” come to mind. There is just enough to qualify this as a horror movie. Viewers who are looking for something genuinely creepy will likely be left wanting. Whereas some of the scenes are fairly unsettling. They really don’t go anywhere. Very little is ever explained and nothing seems to happen with purpose. Huesera is on the fringes of horror. It occasionally steps into the genre. But, more often than not, it is content with being a drama.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – Horror Elements Feel a Bit Flat
Impressive physical performances are worthy of note. They will still feel overly familiar for fans of Japanese horror, however. Sound production seems to have attracted the attention of many reviewers. Despite this I found it to offer little new. Bones cracking and joints popping is not a revolutionary concept in horror. Some will find it effective, others will feel like they have seen it all before. Scenes featuring faceless figures writhing naked in a pile should look terrifying. Instead it just looks a little bit awkward. Especially given the very obvious body stockings worn by the performers.
Many of the horror elements here swing and miss. Leaving one with the feeling that they should have been left out altogether. Still, as I have mentioned before with similarly message driven movies like Relic. These drama movies like to incorporate horror elements. It opens up the market for them. It is easier to be a great horror movie than it is to be an average drama. Something that might be lost in the shuffle as a normal movie. Will likely receive far more attention as a horror movie. The bar is set that low in horror, unfortunately. All you need is a slightly more considered message to stand out. The Babadook is a good example of this.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – Fantastic Acting and Cinematography
Acting is fantastic throughout. There really isn’t a weak performance in the movie. Mayra Batalla is particularly noteworthy as Valeria’s ex girlfriend Octavia. Alfonso Dosal, as Raúl, provides the perfect cheery contrast to Valeria. Doing an excellent job highlighting the character’s relentless optimism. Again, emphasising the difference in expectations between a mother and father.
Natalia Solián, as Valeria, is the standout performance here, though. Convincing through the entire movie’s length. This is both a physically and emotionally impressive performance. Solián perfectly recreates the character’s initial hope and excitement. Switching effortlessly when the reality of parenthood sets in. It’s effective stuff and her moments of emotion are extremely powerful.
Direction is fine. There are interesting touches used to highlight the inner thoughts of the characters. From physical representations of anxiety. Right through to graphic depictions of intimacy. ed with fully clothed sexual encounters. Really help to highlight Valeria’s true desires. Cervera has some fascinating ways to depict Valeria’s mental state. Cinematography is decent. While never really taking any chances. There is a distinct sense of quality to the shoot. Everything is bathed in a deep yellow hue adding an oppressive atmosphere to the picture. It is very effective in setting the mood, throughout.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – Overly Familiar but An Important Message
As a movie, I didn’t find Huesera: The Bone Woman to be all that interesting. Coming off of a whole bunch of pregnancy themed horror movies. I didn’t feel like it did anything special. It felt extremely familiar, almost Deja vu inducing in parts. Especially when compared to Baby Ruby. The things talked about here are things that have been talked about before. Huesera doesn’t offer much new in this regard. As a horror, it is somewhat lacking.
Despite that, the message here is incredibly important. It is a message that, I am sure, many women will relate to. Themes of female bodily autonomy are even more relevant today. Especially in the light of recent political issues in the US. Perhaps we need dozens of movies all saying the same thing for people to eventually hear it. We need female points of view on these subjects. Women need to feel like they can talk about these problems. A mirror needs to be held up to society. Making it clear that it is not okay to for women to not be able to ask for help. It is normal to struggle. It is normal to not feel the way society says you should feel.
Huesera: The Bone Woman – Offers Little New
I am not sure horror is the best place to offer this message, though. I am certainly not sure that is the best place to have this message heard. Horror is an underappreciated genre as it is. People don’t take it seriously, even when the messages portrayed are deadly serious. With that being said, I have to review this as a horror movie. Not a vehicle for a message. I think Huesera is a film that will resonate with certain people. I think some people will connect with it more deeply.
For me, however, it was simply another pregnancy themed horror that offered little new. All very familiar and all rather predictable. Slow, predictable, and a bit boring. If I hadn’t watched so many pregnancy themed horror movies recently. Maybe I would feel a bit different. As it stands, however, that is my opinion.
Is it a Knockout?
Huesera: The Bone Woman is another pregnancy themed horror movie that doesn't add much new. Feeling very similar to Baby Ruby. It is a drama movie bloated with shoehorned horror elements. Having no desire to expand on much of its interesting lore. Huesera never really offers any substantial answers. Instead keen to present a message that feels a little out of place in a horror movie. Making this a difficult movie to recommend to horror fans.
Still, this is an important message. It feels very pertinent in the shadow of recent US political rulings. Acting is fantastic and the gritty, grimy, stylings of the movie work well. Huesera will resonate deeply with some people. While leaving others feel rather bored and a little missold. The body horror elements can be effective but they are few and far between. This is a movie that would have served itself better as a drama. It feels completely miscast as a horror movie. Likely straining its appeal and narrowing its audience. If you enjoy slow paced movies with something to say. You may find plenty to like. If you are looking for effective horror, Huesera will leave you wanting.