Parents' Guide to


By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Violence, racial slurs in message-based horror movie.

Movie NR 2021 83 minutes
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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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