Madres made its debut on Amazon Prime as part of the Welcome to the Blumhouse series of films, and stands out as the shining star of the series’ final four.
Beto (Tenoch Huerta) and Diana (Ariana Guerra) are a Mexican-American couple expecting their first child who move to a migrant farming community in 1970s California where Beto has been offered a job as a manager.
Diana, recently fired from her job as a reporter after becoming pregnant, struggles with identity. Her parents were punished for speaking Spanish in school and so they never allowed their daughters to learn. Now, she finds herself an outsider in their community, which feeds into her fears as something begins haunting her, manifesting as physical illness that will lead her down a terrifying path.
Ryan Zaragoza directs Madres based on a script by Mario Miscione and Marcella Ochoa and he proves from the first scene that he’s not only a fan of ’70s era horror, but he also knows how to create that specific atmosphere on film. From his color palette to sound design to the direction he gives his actors, this feels like a film made in that bygone era and that atmosphere only serves to raise the tension.
As for his cast, Huerta and Guerra have beautiful chemistry. They look and feel like a real couple. Their relationship isn’t perfect. In fact, they have real issues when it comes to how they were both raised and the clash of cultures where one would assume they shared experiences. It creates a real empathy in the viewer. We want them to work out their issues, but we also want them to survive the horror that’s building inside their home.
That horror comes in the form of a haunting by the home’s former resident, and Zaragoza and his crew again create a spirit/ghost that is not only terrifying but also heart-wrenchingly real in its motivations.
And make no mistake, there are plenty of scares to be found in Madres. From strange talismans made of body parts to shadowy figures haunting the home to mysterious events that plague Diana, especially. Sadly, however, the real horror would be too much of a spoiler to discuss. I’ll just say that there are monsters in this film and they are repulsive and horrific.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Elpidia Carrillo in the cast of Madres. Some of you may know her from a career that has spanned decades and included roles in everything from Predator opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger to Seven Pounds with Will Smith. Here, she plays Anita, a sort of spiritual leader/healer among the migrant families, and she gives quite the memorable performances.
There is a weight to her presence that you can feel while watching, and she carries it beautifully. She has also been announced for the upcoming anthology series Guillermo Del Toro’s 10 After Midnight, and we’ll definitely be looking forward to her in that show.
As previously mentioned, this is by far the strongest entry into the back four of Welcome to the Blumhouse. Madres comes closest to the tension and storytelling of Black Box and The Lie from the collaborations opening act with a flair and fear factor all its own.
Check out the trailer below and look for it on Amazon Prime this weekend!