On Welcome to the Blumhouse: Mothers from Ryan Zaragoza, fear is a deceptive presence. Or it is because the director shows it from a certain distance. Dreams, fragmented visions, a certain sense of unreality. Little by little, the film builds a scenario in which nothing is what it seems and what is most fearsome, nothing is entirely real.
Or that is the premise of this story set in the 70s, which contrasts the harshness of the context with the classic horror. And although the combination is not entirely coherent, Zaragoza manages to create a good speech about the dark. As much as to appeal to the idea of loss from primitive fears.
Perhaps that is why the first sequence of the film is a dream, which sums up the fears of any mother. Diana (Ariana Guerra) wakes up terrified by a twisted image in which she loses the baby she is expecting. It does so, with a later version of reality, which is also supported by something more elaborate. The dream is built to be a metaphor And, in fact, Zaragoza makes sure you know it. The film then passes to the reality of a short road trip and between both things, it establishes its rhythm.
One that has to do with perception, with time and the consistency of the credible, extremes that the argument constructs with care. It is a bold game that Zaragoza plays with a firm hand. However, it is successful on several occasions and, perhaps, that is the strongest point of the film. It seems to the director of considerable importance to make it clear (even with a phrase from Conrad) that his film is about the evil within.
One who will take on the literal good – motherhood, as the argument conceives – and hold up as something more painful. For better or for worse, Zaragoza takes the title of the film literally, which makes it difficult for him to explore other spaces or ideas.
Welcome to the Blumhouse: Mothers, the Scary is in the Details
Zaragoza has more ambition thane resources. And that’s evident as Madres goes on to show her story. Little by little, the plot establishes the supernatural from small details without much sense. However, together they reinforce the idea of the insular nightmare.
From the inexplicable events to the history that surrounds the past of the farm that now inhabits. For Zaragoza there is an opportunity to highlight the mysterious in each small piece of information. But his camera, instead of keeping the distance and perhaps showing a disturbing and fearsome space, becomes subjective.
The result is that the viewer ends up wondering if Diana is puzzled, overwhelmed or stunned. Either because of the rapid change of scenery in his life or because of his physical condition, the character is a bit adrift. After all, this is a woman who was born in Los Angeles, barely speaking Spanish in the midst of hostile neighbors. Or at least, they seem to be. Whatever the case, Diana is alone. The feeling of uprooting is built from their perspective.
And the series of small elements related to time and fear is also his. Which makes it inevitable to wonder if what is happening is real or is part of the fatigue, fear and pressure on the character. It is a common resource in horror movies, especially with lonely pregnant women. But Zaragoza finds – at least in its most inspired moments – a new vein.
One of the most interesting points of Mothers is the way in which the director dialogues with folk fear. The idea of the legend is there and with nebulous kinship with candy man by Nia DaCosta, has considerable weight. But still, the film does not seem to have all of them to narrate something of such ambition. Or at least Zaragoza is not interested in doing it.
Darkness and evil
For its third installment, it is evident that Mothers have already used all their resources and are beginning to repeat the obvious. The supernatural surrounding Diana could be chemical poisoning, suggestion, or really something so unsettling that it has no name.
Zaragoza could have used the doubt as part of the context of fear, but instead decides to hold the perception of “something happens”. What is Diana facing? The question is repeated so many times until it is exhausting. Finally, there is an insistent look at the fact that the character assembles the pieces in something more complicated.
In its last sequences, Mothers seem to pay tribute to a host of films about terrified pregnant women. From Rosemary’s Baby to the recent False Positive, everything has a terrifying sense from the physical. However, the combination tastes little and perhaps it is that lack of audacity, the great empty point of the film. Many unanswered questions, few expectations met. Mothers is now available on Amazon Prime Video. In Kirkwood student media we already told you about The Manor, another Welcome to the Blumhouse feature film.