La LLorona – Review

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Although both based on the folklore La Llorona, this Guatemalan film has nothing to do with The Curse of La Llorona (2019) which is part of the series The Conjuring. In the hands of director Jayro Bustamante, who also co-wrote the script with Lisandro Sanchez, the subtext on “women’s retaliation for men’s crimes” was strengthened, then implemented to the plight of the Guatemalan people who lived under the tyranny of a heinous dictator.

The opening moment immediately left an impression, even before the first image appeared, when a woman whispered a prayer. The owner of the voice is named Carmen (Margarita Kenéfic), who sits in a circle with a group of women. What are they praying for? Apparently, Carmen’s husband, Enrique (Julio Diaz), who his subordinates call “General”, is awaiting trial, to determine whether it is true that he committed genocide against the Maya. Top Movie Site

The General and his troops were accused of murdering and raping the Maya, as justification for the eradication of communism. Watch Enrique’s face. His white hair, thick mustache. Then look for the picture of Efraín Ríos Montt. Similar? Of course, because Bustamante and Sanchez really wanted to make La Llorona a reflection of reality as well as revenge for the nation’s wounds. More specifically, a woman’s wound.

The court found Enrique guilty, but the decision was overturned due to lack of evidence. As a result, dozens (or hundreds?) Of residents demonstrated in front of Enrique’s house, leaving the occupants of the house, including the General’s daughter and grandson, Natalia (Sabrina De La Hoz) and Sara (Ayla-Elea Hurtado), locked up for days. Occasionally the audience is invited to take a peek at the conditions outside the gate, but we hear more of the demonstrators’ non-stop screams, while the activities in the house are going on, as the rulers shut their ears to the people’s cries. Best Movie

Maybe in the eyes of many people, La Llorona is not horror, and Bustamante does not apply the mainstream pattern. No jump scares, no occult interruptions, at least not overtly and not in the first hour. La Llorona tends to put fear first. The fear of a dictator who was in power likes to spread fear. Even before the trial, Enrique is overpowered by fear. At midnight, he admits that he heard the cries of women, so he believes there are spies in the house. Whether the cry is indeed supernatural terror or just in Enrique’s head doesn’t matter. The point is, how after being stripped of power, the dictator is nothing more than a weak and pitiful old man.

Even though he doesn’t spit out terror openly, Bustamante ensures that the tense nuance is maintained. When assisted by the thick creepy images directed by Nicolás Wong, he creates an atmosphere full of anxiety and fear, as a representation of Enrique’s family’s heart. Then comes Alma (María Mercedes Coroy), a young girl who comes to replace the servants who in congregation decide to leave. Of course it is not difficult to guess Alma’s true identity, because along with his presence, terror becomes even more real. Following that is the process of uncovering the details of the truth through the carefulness of the script to spread clues, from Alma’s frequent “training” of Sara’s ability to hold her breath in water, to a series of nightmares that her character experiences every night. Do not miss the hint of the dark secret of the Enrique family.

Once on the third act, the payoff intensity offered was not too strong nor was the quantity too short, but it did not diminish the power of La Llorona’s storytelling, especially about empowerment. The film again emphasizes that in acts of harassment, sin does not only belong to the perpetrator, but also to those who choose to ignore it. Movie Review

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