'Welcome to the Blum House: Madres' Review: More social message than horror
'Madres' feels and hits different than most horror screamfests primarily due to its storyline and the setting
This review contains spoilers for 'Madres'
'Madres' feels more like a documentary with a moderate dose of horror. Part of 'Welcome to the Blumhouse', an annual series of four Amazon Originals directed by debutant Ryan Zaragoza, the social message-filled ghoul drama manages to grip, albeit briefly. That's not to say the film is bad, but it just isn't scary enough.
Borrowing modernist Joseph Conrad's quote on how men alone can turn satanic and eradicating the need for a supernatural source, the film starts off on a scary note when it shows Ariana Guerra's heavily pregnant Diana who lets out a blood-curdling scream in her nightmare while trying to save a baby in a bassinet that's fast-filling up with dirt. When she wakes up, it's next to her husband Beto (Tenoch Huerta) as he drives through the crisp and airy streets of '70s Cali where he's set to start a new role on a farm as a manager.
The home they're in shows they aren't the first occupants and Diana sees a string of unusual and bone-chilling apparitions and voodoo paraphernalia — a bloodied eyeball hanging from a tree or a necklace that just sets the horror in motion. However, there's more than just the ghouls, it's the inherent racism that Zaragoza couples which eventually becomes the main theme of the film. Despite her Hispanic heritage, Diana is shunned by the townsfolk and is called a gringa. It is revealed she was born in Los Angeles, but her Spanish was nowhere close to fluent.
There are quite a few subplots that are tied up quite neatly in the end. The focus constantly shifts from Diana to the agricultural workers in particular who play a part after one plotline suggests the strange happenings in the town are a result of the pesticides, while a shopkeeper, superstitious to the hilt belives that Diana has been cursed. Ultimately, 'Madres' sends out a social message about women being forcibly sterilized across the US as part of the National Eugenics Movement.
The racist agenda was pushed by restricting the reproductive rights and although there was a major lawsuit filed and ended as a damp squib. 'Madres' feels and hits different than most horror screamfests primarily due to its storyline and the setting. This is may not have what 'Conjuring' does, but is surely has a message that echoes Conrad's thoughts.
'Welcome to the Blum House: Madres' is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.