Home » Huesera: The Bone Woman is Visually Impressive, but Difficult to Follow [Review]

Huesera: The Bone Woman is Visually Impressive, but Difficult to Follow [Review]

As a man, I will never fully understand the highs and lows that come with being a pregnant woman. Huesera: The Bone Woman, Michelle Garza Cervera’s directorial feature debut, explores the nightmarish side of struggling with a pregnancy, both mentally and as physically. The visceral nature of the movie is exceptionally crafted and has plenty of physical brutality, supernatural occurrences, and paganism horror. All of this woven together for a grim visual representation of a woman simply struggling to come to terms with being a mom, and trying to find solace in that…

Huesera: The Bone Woman takes place in Mexico City and is centered around its main character, Valeria (Natalia Solian) who wishes to become pregnant, as does her husband Raul (Alfonso Dosal). They share a seemingly happy relationship, and even though that wish becomes a reality, Valeria’s early struggles make it quite clear that she is running from somewhat of a troubled past. Frequent nightmares and hallucinations give her all she can handle throughout the pregnancy, as well as after…

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Huesera opens with a paganistic ritual of some kind, which looms large throughout the course of the movie, as it is made apparent that Valeria is not only struggling with the mental and physical aspects of being a pregnant woman, but also the mental and physical scars from something that has existed in her, something beneath reality. Valeria is haunted by this presence, and frequently has visions of supernatural occurrences as well as flashbacks to her past. Valeria’s occupation as a craftswoman is halted by her pregnancy, so on her journey to ‘find herself’ throughout this nightmarish ordeal, Valeria strikes up a relationship with an old flame, Octavia. Octavia represents Valeria’s younger and more rebellious self, the identity that has her immediate family skeptical of her ability to handle being a parent. Troubling instances of being incapable of taking care of children are directly referred to as well as inferred by not only Octavia, but by her immediate family, as well. Even being reminded of past negligent wrongdoings by her young niece and nephew while babysitting them. As Valeria’s rekindled relationship with Octavia progresses from platonic to sexual, I started to lose touch with the character a little bit. Not that I could possibly understand what it is like for women to go through an identity conflict while experiencing something as emotionally taxing as a pregnancy, but I just didn’t understand this pivot. Valeria striking back up a relationship with Octavia was supposed to represent her bucking back against coming to terms with becoming a mom, but there was no emotional payoff as their relationship ended swiftly, in a breakup scene that had the emotional beats of a daytime soap opera. 

In my opinion, the strength of Huesera: The Bone Woman comes from the chilling supernatural sequences, which were brilliantly conceived and executed, where Valeria has horrific visions of a bone-cracking creature, which Valeria seems to be slowly devolving into. The Bone Woman is an appropriate title for this movie, as Valeria is in desperate need of a good chiropractor. Valeria’s bone cracking issues become worse and worse as her mental well-being devolves further and further. The sound of her bones cracking and the visuals of broken bones throughout the brief ninety-minute runtime would even give the biggest fans of MTV’s Scarred a run for their money. The climactic sequence will have most people clenched, and looking for the bubble wrap… 

Valeria serves as both the protagonist as well as the antagonist in Huesera: The Bone Woman. The ‘haunting’ acts as window dressing for the real battle, with herself. Valeria’s inability to be the idealistic mother is a struggle that is not going away anytime soon. Which, I’m sure for a lot of women out there, is a struggle more horrifying than any demonic presence. I’ll never fully understand the physical and mental demands that come with being a mother, but Huesera was an illuminating experience into some of the nightmares and horrific scenarios that can be caused by prepartum as well as postpartum. 

The easy comparison for Huesera: The Bone Woman is Rosemary’s Baby, for obvious reasons, the main one being the primary characters’ plight during a troubled pregnancy. However, I find Huesera to be more in line with another Roman Polanski movie, The Tenant, which makes for a solid double feature recommendation. The struggle to find one’s own identity is a prevalent theme in both movies, and both main characters are forced to deal with a scattered and distorted reality, triggered by a traumatic life event, which in the case of Huesera, is a pregnancy. Huesera doesn’t quite reach the heights of The Tenant, mostly because of a generally rudderless story, but visually hits a lot of the same notes, making Huesera an interesting entry in the ‘identity crises’ catalog… 

Overall, I thought there were some fantastic sequences in Huesera: The Bone Woman, the direction was solid, to go with really good performances, but that lack of a cohesive story will prevent it from being a movie that appeals to the masses. It was a moderately frustrating viewing experience not really knowing what exactly Valeria was battling, other than an identity crisis. I found myself wanting more of the supernatural interactions, and a deeper understanding of Valeria’s familial relationship to whatever paganistic beliefs they have. The paganistic ritual scenes had the potential for a lot more payoff if there was more clarity as to what was actually going on, and what they were trying to ‘rid’ Valeria of. With all of that said, this is a really solid feature-length debut for Michelle Garza Cervera, who clearly has an aptitude for crafting horror sequences. Even with its flaws, Huesera: The Bone Woman is a visually impressive movie with good performances across the board.

I’ll definitely be thinking twice about cracking my knuckles for a while (as I lean back, crack my knuckles, and shudder).

Huesera: The Bone Woman is opening theatrically on February 10th, 2023, and will be available on VOD February 16th, 2023, from XYZ Films.

Wicked Rating: 6/10

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