“Madres” Review: Latin Horror Movie Starring Texas Roots Draws From Real Life For Story That Becomes An Investigative Thriller
October 14, 2021
For director Ryan Zaragoza’s feature debut “Madres,” the El Paso native tackled a social issue that affected Mexican-American women in the 1970s. The storyline sounds like distorted science fiction , but the title at the end of the supernatural thriller says it was based on actual events. Co-written by San Antonio native Marcella Ochoa, who drew on her grandparents’ experiences as migrant farm workers, the film feels more like investigative drama than outright horror. .
Another connection to the Lone Star State is lead actor Ariana Guerra who grew up in a border town near McAllen before attending the University of Texas. She plays Diana, a Mexican-American writer, pregnant with her first child, whose immigrant husband Beto (Tenoch Huerta from “The Forever Purge”) just landed a job in Golden Valley, Calif., As a supervisor overseeing workers. migrants on a farm.
Considering Beto has only been in the US for five years, this is an offer he couldn’t pass up and it includes free room and board for his family in the form of a two-story house. . Sure, it’s old and spooky with peeling wallpaper (the perfect backdrop for a haunted house) but as he explains to Diana, “Don’t look a free horse in your mouth.” She corrects him, “horse gift”. English is Beto’s second language unlike Diana, who was born in the United States and speaks little Spanish.
The couple’s cultural difference plays an important role in the film. Diana is treated differently by other Latinas because she is not fluent in their language, and she does not believe in traditional Mexican folklore which includes help from a local curandera named Anita played by Elpidia Carrillo. FYI, Carrillo played the young guerrilla Anna in 1987’s “Predator” which warns Arnold Schwarzenegger and his men against their opponent, “He’s changed color, like the chameleon, he uses the jungle.” There is also a scene in the movie where Beto performs a traditional egg healing on Diana. Anyone who is Hispanic and grew up in South Texas is likely familiar with this technique. My grandmother did this to me several times during my teenage years.
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