On Oct. 8, Amazon Studios released their new film “Madres” in conjunction with three other films, all chock full of terror. In October, many flock to streaming services to pick out the programs best suited for the season, searching for hair-raising feature films. Created by Blumhouse Studios, who are best known for their chilling horror stories such as “The Purge” and “Paranormal Activity,” this movie was no exception to the thrilling genre we’ve come to know and love.
Based on a true account, the film is set on a 1970s migrant farm in California and follows Diana (Ariana Guerra) and Beto (Tenoch Huerta), a Mexican American couple expecting their first child. As the story progresses, strange symptoms manifest themselves, and the two realize there might be something darker at play. By no means, am I a horror fanatic. Even so, I was floored by this production.
Guerra, known for her small role in the teen drama “Five Feet Apart,” shines as the film’s leading lady. Breakout roles can be a hit or miss for actors. Many fail to deliver a worthwhile performance in their first leading role, but this is not the case for Guerra. Her acting is raw and genuine, and the horror genre is a perfect starting point for what will certainly be a blooming acting career. Huerta follows a similar narrative. Although primarily the star of many foreign films, he has played small roles in the hit Netflix series “Narcos,” and will have a key role in Marvel’s upcoming movie, “Wakanda Forever.” If his performance in “Madres” is any indication of his talent, the silver screen will gain a fine addition to their upcoming projects.
Directed by Ryan Zaragoza, this movie highlights not only the creepy happenings in the characters home, but also a look into migrant communities in the 1970s. The film casts a light on many different aspects of Latinx culture and superstitions. Protection amulets, prayers and spiritual cleansings are all made use of in the movie. It was refreshing to see these traditions displayed in a movie, which is likely due to the fact that Zaragoza showcased many of the superstitions his Mexican American family grew up knowing. Latinx culture is nuanced and rich, and this movie allows a hint of that deep culture to translate onto the screen. The cultural touch added to the thrilling flick adds a new layer of depth to the piece that many directors don’t think about adding to their movies.
Many of horror films aren’t that deep. They stop at the shock value, aiming not to teach you anything, but simply to scare you. This can lead them to become predictable, even boring at times. “Madres,” however, successfully achieves the fear factor you crave in a horror movie, while also opening your eyes and allowing you to learn something about other cultures. It forms a new spin on the genre, one I hope many directors will take on in future projects. Paired with the shocking content of the film and with great leading performances, “Madres” is an incredible two-hour endeavor that is sure to fill you with fright this fall.