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Huesera: The Bone Woman – Final Girls Berlin Film Festival (Film Review)

3 min read

Michelle Garza Cervera has certainly proven herself with her directorial debut, Huesera: The Bone Woman and Natalia Solián playing the lead, Valeria, is enchanting in this modern masterpiece which plays on familiar aspects of folk, body, and pregnancy , combining to create something that feels unique and is truly chilling.

At the centre of this movie is the curse of motherhood when it feels like you are resigning yourself to the role you are supposed to want, and giving up on what you want. At first, Valeria and her husband Raúl (Alfonso Dosal) are over the moon to learn they are expecting, dancing around their quaint, modern apartment in joy. Soon subtle signs begin to reveal Valeria's true feelings and apprehensions, such as having to give up her trade of carpentry, and what was a miracle from the Virgin Mary turns out to be a literal and metaphorical curse for the young couple.

After witnessing a nightmarish scene of what can be assumed to be a manifestation of La Huesera, meaning the bone woman in Spanish, the ensuing horrific visions of the woman and spiders plague Valeria and take a toll on those around her, with her family and Raúl being far from supportive. Whether this is a true curse or pregnancy-related psychosis is uncertain, and it feels unimportant throughout, and the meaningful relationships between Valeria and the other woman in the film are instead the only respite from the horrific imagery.

Valeria finds solace in three people, her aunt, at times her husband's mother, and Octavia, played by Mayra Batalla. The rest of the characters can be seen as pushing Valeria into a heterosexual, maternal role she doesn't want and lashing out when she doesn't fit the mould. In these moments the feminist voice of the film is at its strongest, and Valeria's aunt and her friends seem to be the only ones to understand the gravity of the situation and help her.

The queer overtones are an interesting addition to the film, with Valeria and her aunt being shown to be queer, and whilst the queer relationships are painful they are only so because of the need to conform to the expectations of those around them. Octavia and Valeria's aunt has stayed true to their identity, though not without repercussions, and attempt to support Valeria through these horrors.

There are few cheap scares in this movie, the imagery is genuinely chilling and each sequence with Huesera is an absolute nightmare, and Valeria's habit of cracking her joints becomes more and more disturbing even in scenes of relative normalcy. When Valeria manages to confront Huesera with the support of Octavia and her aunt, the result is one of the most disturbing sequences of recent years and proves a satisfying and terrifying climax to the steadily paced terrors that build throughout Huesera.

Michelle Garza Cervera and the stars of Huesera are the ones to watch with such a strong debut. Huesera joins a whole host of pregnancy horror movies such as The Brood, Rosemary's Baby, Prevenge, and The Babadook, but has something new and brilliant to offer to the genre. The aptest comparison would be Julia Ducournau's 2021 pregnancy body horror Titane, and this film holds its own against the critically acclaimed film, not that they are in competition.

Huesera: The Bone Woman is showing at Final Girls Berlin Film Festival 2023 and will be released on on 16 February 2023.