A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie explores themes of damaging racist policies against Mexican migrant workers in the 1970s and how these issues have relevance to today's world.
Positive Role Models
Diana is a writer determined to find out what's really going on with the alarming number of miscarriages among women in the Mexican migrant worker community in central California. Her husband, Beto, has worked his way up to being a manager on a farm after arriving in America as an undocumented worker.
Horror movie centered on the lives of Mexican Americans and undocumented workers in Central California in the 1970s. One of the lead characters, Diana, has moved to the region from Los Angeles with her husband -- he's being promoted to a managerial position on a farm, and she has just been fired from her job for being pregnant. Diana is shunned by some women in the community because she was never taught Spanish as a child -- it was discouraged when she was growing up because schools believed that requiring English would more quickly assimilate Mexican American kids like Diana into White American culture. Truly horrific policies and racial slurs reveal the extend of the racism and prejudice Latinx populations have faced and face in America, particularly immigrants and undocumented workers.
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Violence & Scariness
Demonic imagery. Jump scares. Severed eye hangs from a tree. Scalpel stabbing. Character killed by being impaled on glass; blood. Close-up of C-section incision; blood.
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Infrequent profanity. "F--k" used twice. Also: "s--t," "bulls--t." Racial slurs directed at Mexican Americans used by White characters.
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Products & Purchases
Budweiser beer bottle clearly shown in one scene.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Beer drinking. A special kind of water presented as a gift to the lead character leads to horrific hallucinations after she drinks it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Madres is a 2021 horror movie in which a pregnant Mexican American woman newly arrived with her husband in a California farming community experiences terrifying visions. It centers on a community often overlooked in standard horror fare -- in this case, Mexican American migrant workers. Expect demonic imagery and jump scares throughout. Stabbing with a scalpel. Character impaled on glass, killed; some blood. Close-up of a C-section incision with some blood. Severed eye shown hanging from a tree. The movie is set in 1977, and addresses the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of Mexican men and women newly arrived in the United States, and connects this to sterilization procedures on undocumented workers in some ICE facilities on the US/Mexico border. The lead character, Diana, was fired from her job for being pregnant -- a standard sexist policy of the recent past that might inspire conversation between older and younger generations. Racial slurs directed at Mexican Americans used by White characters. Some profanity, including "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a horror movie with a message. You can't say you weren't warned, right at the very beginning. Madres begins with a quote from the writer Joseph Conrad: "The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness." It's really all the foreboding you need in terms of what's to come -- what seems like a tale of supernatural horror and demonic visions is actually a story about something far more horrifying and, as the movie also says at the very beginning, is "based on true events." While the "based on true events" has become as much of an overused trope as all the other overused tropes in horror movies, the movie makes absolutely certain that the audience knows that the real terror is far uglier and eviler than ghosts, zombies, Freddy Krueger, etc.
The movie is set in the 1970s, and the director makes fine use of that style and aesthetic in the washed-out colors and the multiscreen montage. The acting is excellent across the board, as we discover with the lead characters that the truth is far, far worse than the supernatural rumors swirling around the Mexican American farming community in this region of Central California. If there are any shortcomings, they have to do with expectations. Those expecting a horror movie in the traditional sense are likely to be disappointed, as the movie's message, and the anger over what has happened and is happening, rightfully takes precedence over more basic horror movies going for gore-for-gore's sake. Those looking for straightforward, apolitical blood-and-guts horror are better off looking elsewhere, but for those looking for a story that moves beyond what often feels like an exhausted genre will find much to enjoy in Madres.
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