“Madres,” a new film directed by Ryan Zaragoza, claims to be “inspired by true events,” like many paranormal thrillers before it. But not like many of these movies, this one isn’t borrowing from city legends or well-known ghost tales — it’s drawing on verifiable atrocities dedicated against Latina ladies. “The Manor,” which Amazon is releasing alongside “Madres” as a part of their “Welcome to the Blumhouse” series of horror movies, also tells a narrative of marginalized womanhood, albeit with a septuagenarian protagonist. Though vastly totally different in setting, each movies offer refreshingly uncommon protagonists, yielding spirited — if often middling — outcomes.
“Madres” takes place within the Nineteen Seventies, because the mother-to-be Diana (Ariana Guerra) strikes to a migrant community together with her husband, Beto (Tenoch Huerta). A passionate investigative journalist, Diana is loath to depart her native Los Angeles, but she uncovers a wealth of new materials when it appears a sinister power is harming the city’s pregnant Latina ladies. The ensuing investigation catalyzes social tensions between Diana, a light-skinned Mexican American, and her darker-skinned husband which are almost more fascinating than the thriller itself. A subdued rating and some by-the-book camerawork could make this pressing story drag, but what it lacks in sting it makes up for with an original script (by Marcella Ochoa and Mario Miscione) and a ferociously pregnant protagonist who would make the “Fargo” character Marge Gunderson proud.
Set at a present-day nursing home, “The Manor,” written and directed by Axelle Carolyn, focuses on the intersection between sexism and ageism. After the protagonist Judith (a unbelievable Barbara Hershey) strikes into assisted dwelling following a stroke, she suspects the workers are up to something nefarious. Naturally no person believes her, and her psychological competency is quickly up for debate. With the help of her goth grandson Josh (Nicholas Alexander), Judith should unravel a deranged conspiracy before it claims her life.
Uncommon is the film that facilities on grandmother-grandson relationships, not to mention one which shows a relationship like Judith and Josh’s. Josh clearly worships his take-no-crap grandma, and the 2 bond over the macabre: He texts her “Psycho” references, she quizzes him on horror trivia within the parlor of the previous people’ home. At one level, Judith admonishes Josh for swearing and he counters that she cusses all of the time. This is delightfully true — Judith drops expletives like she’s one of many youngsters in “Stranger Things.”
Despite some flat cinematography and borderline goofy particular results, “The Manor” offers us a particular 70-year-old lady as its protagonist and a twisty ending positive to polarize. It and “Madres” are each a bit half-baked, but their foundations are ingenious sufficient to distract from some sloppy building.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 23 minutes. Watch on Amazon.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 21 minutes. Watch on Amazon.