My Cat Persephone Wrote this Review on her Smartphone. It was better than Mine. .
Jayro Bustamante and Lisandro Sanchez
I know I’m months late to the party, and it’s only after La Llorona earned a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Foreign Language film that I’m giving this the time of day. The time it deserves.
I’ll admit the only reason I haven’t seen/reviewed this earlier is because I’m still regretting I ever saw the other La Llorona movie from 2019, The Curse of La Llorona, part of the Conjur-verse. Franchise to such PG-13 scare free fare like The Nun and Annabelle Goes Home (where you go home disappointed you sat through this).
You’re thankful this version of La Llorona has nothing to do with any horror lite cinematic puny-verse. What you might not be thankful for is how sad La Llorona is, how dread and despair pervade every frame of this movie. It deserves its nomination I’m assuming since I’m not really up on Guatemalan cinema.
The Conjur-verse- when you say you like horror but you don’t really want to be scared.
La Llorona opens in a war torn f*cked up part of Guatemala. People are rioting, and it’s not just because Menudo is in town,
Everyone goes crazy for Menudo.
We’re in a giant house and a bunch of elderly women are praying. We don’t know what they’re saying because the subtitles (or los subtitlos) have not kicked in yet. They’re pretty focused.
In another room there are a bunch old men. They’re lamenting something. They’re focused on one particular old man. His name is General Enrique Monteverde (Julio Diaz- one of the circus performers in Saint Maud).
The very one. Rather, the infamous General Enrique Monteverde wanted for war crimes, specifically the genocide of the Mayan people.
Many, many Guatemalans would agree with you.
We’re months into a lengthy war trial and it won’t be long before a verdict is given.
Meanwhile, General Monteverde is having trouble sleeping. We hope it’s because of crushing guilt due to killing all those Mayans, but it’s not. General D-Bag thinks he hears crying outside and it’s getting louder and louder. No one else seems to hear it but he can’t get to sleep.
The General knows what to do. He takes a giant handgun from out of his closet, goes into the kitchen, and accidently shoots at his wife Carmen (Margarita Kenific- the ninja in Magic Mike XXL) because he thinks she’s the source of the noise.
You’d think an old man holding a giant gun in the middle of the night thinking he’s hearing crying noises would be more lucid. Anyway, it’s good Carmen is not dead and there’s just a giant hole in the wall.
The next morning, the General is found guilty of genocide. This Guatemalan has just been convicted of mass Guate-murder.
The General then suffers a stroke or something but no one really cares because f*ck that guy.
He and his family go back home from El Hospital with heavy security. Turns out a huge throng of people have surrounded the General’s estate. They’re carrying pictures of loved ones the general has killed. They’re chanting how much they hate him.
And in a sublime instance of creativity, they sing a song that include the lyrics (and yes, this is actually in the movie), “Enrique is a genocidal murderer”. I’m not a songwriter, but you don’t often hear songs with the phrase “genocidal murderer” in them.
The General’s daughter Natalia (Sabrina De La Hoz- Daisy Ridley’s lightsaber caddie in The Rise of Skywalker) and her daughter Sara (Ayla-Elea Hurtado- Willem Defoe’s pipe refiller in The Lighthouse) will have to stay at the estate for a couple of days because there’s no way anyone from that family is going out safely. Natalia is a doctor and it looks like she’s not going to work for a bit. Little Sara is a professional killer and she’s going to have to put her weekend contracts on hold.
More bad news. All the servants are leaving because they don’t like it when the head of the household starts shooting up the kitchen and working for a convicted genocidal maniac doesn’t look good on your resume.
There’s one loyal servant left. Her name is Valeriana (Maria Telon – the old white woman in Relic) and she may know some people in town that don’t want to murder the General or his family.
Fortunately, there’s someone to fill a new servant spot. She’s a young girl named Alma (Maria Mercedes Coroy- the (spoiler) girl Taylor Swift kills in Taylor Swift Miss Americana). She’s needs the work and she seems to be rather good at it. Alma gets along well with Sara. Sara finds out that Alma had two children but they’re dead now. Bummer.
But the General is suspicious of Alma. Ever since she arrived the General has been hearing the crying again, and this time it’s getting louder. He’ll bet a pair of his adult diapers that Alma is the Weeping Woman come to haunt him for his crimes. But he’s not going down without a fight. Either Alma or another kitchen door will be full of shells before it’s all over. He’s committed genocide. What’s another dead housekeeper?
The General has no idea…
What Works With La Llorona
- Writer/director Jayro Bustamente and co-writer Lisandro Sanchez sublimely put political resonance with supernatural underpinnings in a way that doesn’t beat you over the head. If you’re familiar with the legend of La Llorona, this movie gives you one of its most harrowing retellings. Almost makes you forget The Curse of La Llorona even exists.
- A short sequence in a bedroom is fraught with tension. Who knew that mixing _____ with ______ would cause such an alarm. Senior moments indeed.
- Maria Mercedes Coroy is a study in ambiguity as the servant whose children are dead. You never know where she’s coming from, what her motivations are or even if she has any other than to work. You hinge on ever look, every word. And you’re rewarded for it. For better or worse.
What Doesn’t Work With La Llorona
- Those expecting an all out horror movie will be extremely disappointed. There are horror elements, but if you’re used to cheap Blumhouse scares, you’ll be bored if there isn’t a jump scare every five minutes. Patience is rewarded. Really.
A well-deserved nomination for Best Foreign Language film, La Llorona stays with you longer than most horror movies do. Moving and unsettling at the same time, say ‘Si’ to La Llorona and don’t worry about the woman crying in the background. It’s just my Asian mother crying, I haven’t contacted her in 20 years.