A thankless job of horror – The New Indian Express


Express news service

The build tension is normal for the course in a horror movie. Filmmaker Ryan Zaragoza does it diligently in Madres. Sadly, he goes too far, and his focus on generating and keeping the tension going trumps his duty of scaring us all while telling an intriguing story.

The horror, after all, is about blowing us out of our seats after a long period of disappointment and anticipation. Madres does manage to create some anticipation, but the fears are so subdued that you start to wonder if the filmmaker even intended to scare us in the first place.

The 83-minute film’s plot is as old as the hills. Set in the 1970s, a Mexican-American couple move to a farming community in California with hopes for a better future. Their house is naturally cut off from the rest of the community.

The husband, Beto (Tenoch Huerta), works as a manager, a designation no member of his family has ever had before, at the local plantation, and the pesticides used there appear to affect his pregnant wife, Diana (Ariana Guerra). Diana also learns that the previous tenants of the house have left their belongings and it all adds to the goosebumps around them – so far so good.

Now, the movie could have played with that weird setting and plot in a dozen different ways, but it chooses to be a sober, joyless imitation of many of the horror movies we’ve seen over the years. Throw a stone at a stage and there’s a good chance you’ve seen a higher iteration in another horror movie. Take, for example, the use of a music box, reminiscent of The Conjuring.

The rural setting, which screams that there are dark secrets beneath seclusion, reminds me of an episode from the formidable horror anthology, Bloodride. What made these aforementioned films thrilled was the reward they brought with moments of real shock and surprise.

Madres, on the other hand, is all about the characters walking down spooky hallways, looking out windows, looking at each other … you get the idea, right? For once, I wish a horror movie would scare away bland jumps just to keep us occupied.

The film recognizes the real tragedies and injustices inflicted on Mexican immigrants, and that’s when you see what it could have been like with better writing and better focus. Madres could have been a politically charged Get Out mate, and he has good intentions. Good intentions alone are unfortunately not enough, when the writing is so unimaginative.

Director: Ryan Zaragoza

Genre: Horror

Platform: Amazon Prime Video

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