The horrors of human barbarism are more horrendous than the supernatural counterpart. One cannot fathom the depth of human wickedness in their pursuit to fulfill his supremacist agenda. Ryan Zaragoza’s brave film, Madres, mixes supernatural and human viciousness to narrate a spine-chilling drama. Under the ‘Welcome to the Blumhouse’ series, Madres is undeniably the best of the lot. It is an eye-opener that deserves a large audience.
Written by Mario Miscione and Marcella Ochoa, Madres is streaming on Prime Video. The film, inspired by actual events, is set in the early 1970s.
‘Madres’ Plot Summary
Roberto “Beto” (Tenoch Huerta), a Mexican-born farmer, and his pregnant wife, Diana (Ariana Guera), move to Golden Valley, California, a Spanish-speaking town. After working five years for an agro company in LA, Beto becomes a manager and shifts to the local village to carry out his duties. While Diana is skeptical about leaving LA, Beto assures her she will feel comfortable in the farming community.
Diana and Beto get settled in an old-creaking house arranged by Beto’s boss, Mr.Quill. As Diana gets accustomed to the new environment, she starts hearing eerie sounds in the house. She looks around and finds some items in the shed belonging to the previous owner, Teresa Flores.
Through some leaflets, Diana discovers the harmful effects of pesticides that are killing farmers on the farm. However, before she can investigate further, Diana spots a severed eye hanging from a tree in the garden and freaks out. She tries to connect with the local Spanish-speaking community to know more about Teresa. However, instead, she learns that none of the women in the town have a child except one. The woman informs them about a legendary curse that kills infants in the womb. Diana neglects the supernatural warnings and believes that it is the harmful pesticides that has brought infertility to the community. As she tries to unravel the mystery, the ghost of Teresa haunts Diana and attempts to tell her the truth.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Who was killing the Unborn Infants?
Diana refused to believe that a legendary curse (La Maldicion) brought infertility to the farming town, Golden Valley. She scrutinized Teresa’s notes and diary and about a valley fever that made farmworkers sick. But according to the farmers, only women got ill. Diana visited the Golden County Clerk’s office to investigate the mystery and found that the birth rate in the town was constantly diminishing. Whatever was causing infertility only affected Hispanic women. Diana even found another city, Arbington, with a similar decreasing birth rate that recovered afterward for some reason. She believed that they might have found the cure and thus decided to visit the clinic the next day.
However, during that night, Diana started bleeding and was hospitalized at the Northwest Maternity Clinic. While on bed rest, Diana requested Beto to visit Arbington and find out the truth. At the Arbington Medical Clinic, Dr. Nelson had no idea about the declining birth rates and its recovery as his predecessor left no records of previous patients. He handed Beto the former doctor’s number to connect directly. Beto found out that the previous doctor was none other than Dr. Whelton Bell, who was now in charge of the Northwest Maternity Clinic. Whelton was also attending Diana, and soon the dots were connected.
Diana found records of patients in Whelton’s office that concluded that Whelton and his loyal nurse, Carol, were sterilizing Hispanic women without their consent. They cunningly got the women’s consent on the form and sterilized them, and killed their babies. No Hispanic women became pregnant again, and thus the birth rate was constantly declining in Golden Valley.
Who summoned Teresa’s ghost?
When Diana arrived at the house, she believed that the ghost of Teresa was trying to scare her or harm her. But later in the Madres, it was duly explained that Teresa’s ghost was Diana’s guardian trying to protect her unborn child from the evil doctor.
Teresa contacted Diana through the Lullaby coming from a toy Diana found in the shed. For some reason, Teresa’s lips were sealed, and thus Lullaby acted as a poetic communication medium between the dead and the living. In the clerk’s office, Teresa guided Diana to her death records to hint to Diana that she was trying to help.
The doubts were cleared when Anita arrived at Diana’s house at night and revealed that she summoned Teresa’s ghost to protect Diana and her infant. Anita also confessed that she hanged severed eyes in the garden to save them from the curse. Little did Anita know that it wasn’t the curse but an evil human who was killing the babies.
‘Madres’ Ending Explained
After Dr. Whelton Bell’s sinister motives were revealed, he tried to kill Diana on the operation table. However, at the pivotal moment, Beto arrived at the scene and stabbed the evil doctor. But before the couple could escape the hospital, the root of all evil, Beto’s racist boss, Tomas “Thomas,” arrived and shot Beto.
Tomas revealed that it wasn’t the pesticides or the curse that made pregnant women sick or gave them rashes. He blended a special drink, Agua Fresca, with the help of Whelton to poison the pregnant Hispanic women. Tomas poisoned them to visit Whelton, who would later exterminate their babies and sterilize them without their consent. The two racist extremists wanted to end the immigrant lineage from their “white country.”
Diana hummed the Lullaby and summoned Teresa’s ghost to help her kill the sinister Tomas. The spirit distracted Tomas, and Diana pushed him out of the glass door. The accident killed Tomas.
In the end, Beto survived the attack. Diana gave birth to a healthy baby and named him Jose. She even finished her book and probably had a happy ending. Though Diana’s story concluded reasonably, not everyone met the same fate.
Whelton’s partner in crime, Nurse Carol, joined St. Agatha Maternity Clinic in LA and resumed the heinous act of sterilizing immigrant women.
According to the end credits, more than 64,000 men and women have been forcibly sterilized in the United States as a part of the National Eugenics Movement. To push their racist agenda, they restricted the reproductive rights of the people, they considered “undeserving.”
Most of these victims included African and Mexican men and women. From time to time, Jordan Peele has depicted such atrocities in his films, and Madres follows a similar path by blending human horror with the supernatural one.
The practice of sterilization re-emerged at the ICE Detention Center in Georgia, where a doctor removed reproductive organs from immigrant women’s bodies without their consent. As of the making of Madres in 2020, none of the victims have received justice.
Madres is a 2021 drama thriller film directed by Ryan Zaragoza. The Blumhouse production is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.