Valeria Hernandez pregnant with her first child, her husband Raúl is delighted, and her mother Maricarmen regards it as a miracle, the result of Valeria’s pious attendance and prayer at shrines, but others find it ridiculous, reminding her of the time when she babysat for the neighbours and dropped their child; unsurprisingly, Valeria’s anxieties begin to grow.
Awakening from nightmares, she sees a woman across the street jump from her second storey window but no body can be found, and she becomes convinced there is a presence in their apartment, scuttling about in the shadows. Visiting her friend Ursula, a seer, Valeria is told she is trapped in the web of a spider, hunted by a predator, and she begins to seek ways to escape.
Directed by Michelle Garza Cervera from a script co-written with Abia Castillo, Huesera slips between the relatively well-to-do neighbourhoods of Valeria’s family to the backstreet markets where Valeria plies her trade and performs her rituals and the underground clubs where punk bands perform to rowdy mosh pits, Valeria (Natalia Solián) throwing herself into a past where she felt things were simpler.
Using her ex-girlfriend Octavia (Mayra Batalla) as a distraction, Raúl (Alfonso Dosal) is increasingly concerned about Valeria’s behaviour yet does little of practical value to intervene or support her, Huesara a film about the fears of pregnancy and motherhood presented as horror and told largely from a female point of view but not capitalising on either aspect.
Warned of the pain of childbirth, the physical aspects are present with Valeria knotting her hands and cracking her knuckles, the carcass of a chicken torn apart with bare hands at the kitchen table, the fear of someone penetrating her home, but once the premise is established it never develops, only repeats.
The final scenes of the ritual enacted by Ursula (Martha Claudia Moreno) and her coven taking the film in a different visual direction, Valeria lost in a misty forest of dead trees where faceless bodies writhe in the mud, it takes Huesera to another place but presented as a fantasy disconnected from the realism elsewhere it adds little to the narrative, the concept and imagination present but not fully gestated to fulfil their potential.
Edinburgh International Film Festival concluded on Saturday 20th August