By Liz Lopez
When I first saw the trailer for the Welcome to the Blumhouse film Madres, I had an idea of what the story would include when Diana (Ariana Guerra, Five Feet Apart, Dumplin’) discovers items from the previous residents of the home on the ranch where she and her husband Beto (Tenoch Huerta, The Forever Purge, Son of Monarchs, “Narcos: Mexico” TV Series) have moved to. The supernatural elements are there with a few of the thumps, slamming doors and creeks, but to my pleasant surprise, the film is so much more than this when Diana begins to read some historical news articles she finds. Her investigative journalism skills kick in, more so with the personal experiences during her pregnancy. Directed By Ryan Zaragoza (“All American” TV Series, Sterling), based on the script by Mario Miscione (“Dark/Web” TV Series, Discarnate) and Marcella Ochoa (Worry Dolls short, Discarnate, My Name Is Maria De Jesus), this is a well written and crafted story that includes elements of true events that occurred in 1970s Los Angeles as the basis for what is happening to pregnant women in the region where Diana and Beto now live, many who are Spanish dominant in their communication, spoken or written. This is way beyond another “La Llorona” story, although it does contain references to some cultural beliefs, it is an engaging story that should not be missed. Granted, it may not be viewing for everyone, especially people who prefer to opt out of films with “spooky things,” spirits or similar scenes.
Beto has been hired to manage the agricultural workers in the Golden Valley community and Diana is a journalist who plans to write a book while she is pregnant and setting roots in the small community. Anita (Elpidia Carrillo, “Mayans M.C.” TV Series, Songbird, Predator) runs a store in town that has a good stock of cultural and spiritual items and meets the new couple in town. As friendly and welcoming as Anita tries to be, Diana is Mexican American with limited Spanish speaking skills and obviously was not raised with the long-term knowledge that Beto and Anita have. There is a scene that shows Diana is even reluctant to have Anita say a prayer for them and her soon to be born baby.
Another theme that comes up in this story set in the 1970s is the use of pesticides in the fields that caused health problems in agricultural workers. It is obvious in this story that the landowner and/or his minion are all for using/spraying pesticides with no regard for anyone’s health. Rallying for social causes was highly discouraged by life threatening means.
There are some beautiful aerial shots of the region with the agricultural and rich landscape, as well as great shots of the field workers and the environment they are working in – beautiful as it may appear on screen, but potentially deadly, if not disabling. The cinematography by Felipe Vara de Rey and the direction by Ryan Zaragoza make this visually inviting.
The cast includes Joseph Garcia, (Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Bless Me, Ultima, Prison Break), Robert Larriviere, (“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Nashville” TV Series) and Kerry Cahill (“The Walking Dead,” TV Series, Free State of Jones) among the many others.
Welcome to the Blumhouse is a set of eight films released on Amazon since October 2020 and Madres will be available worldwide on Amazon Prime Video October 8th.