The Curse of La Llorona is widely known as a bad movie, but don’t stop searching. Somewhere in Google results is La Llorona, a horror movie that provides a nuanced take on the same folktale.
La Llorona is a smart and sophisticated horror about the gradual breakdown of a family. La Llorona upends your expectations by blending political with supernatural horror.
The general (a stand-in for late Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt), like any other dictator, insists that he isn’t guilty. He believes that people are to guerillas like water is to fish. If you want to get rid of the fish, you need to take out the water first. But he knows she’s coming for him. He can hear her cry in the night.
La Llorona turns typical jump scares into artful compositions, makes subtle suggestions, and uses its characters to create tension.
Apart from the senile General’s erratic behavior, the rest of the family experiences inexplicable phenomena. It also reveals the kind of characters that the general is surrounded with.
His wife Carmen (Margarita Kenéfic) dismisses the testimonies of rape victims as accusations from whores. “Generals are still men”, she says to her daughter Natalia (Sabrina De La Hoz) when asked about the women in the military camp. She wonders how much her mother knows. Carmen expected that she wouldn’t be dealing with this problem in her old age, as if it was just a phase. Natalia has an inkling but buries it. Valeriana (María Telón), who is a native that grew up in the household, views them all as innocent.
Overall, the protests don’t bother them that much, except for the occasional stones being thrown through the window. Inside their affluence, it is easy to detach yourself from the plight of peasants.
The cast does a good enough job in their roles. While the General is a simplistic villain, this is compensated by the gray characters around him. Maria Mercedes Coroy exudes incredible onscreen presence. You already know who she is from the moment you see her in the crowd but she remains a mysterious presence.
In the end, La Llorona gets what is due. This movie not just about the anguish of a mother. It is a rallying cry for indigenous people (human rights activist Rigoberta Menchú Tum makes a cameo). Their story is utilized to reveal real-life terrors, not just used as superstitious fodder for cheap scares.
La Llorona is an incredible allegorical horror about dictatorship, the system that perpetuates it, and the pain of its victims.
La Llorona reimagines a well-known folktale into a chilling and thought-provoking indigenous story that blends supernatural and political horror.