LA LLORONA (2019, streaming on Shudder) is a powerful if a bit slow-paced horror film that reminds us the real horror, when it finally shows its face, is often the truth, is often what’s real.
The General, a former dictator who ruthlessly deployed military forces in ethnic cleansing during fighting against communists in the early 1980s, is now an old man living in a democracy that has decided to heal by putting him on trial for genocide. But a vengeful spirit may claim the ultimate justice. The film reinvents the traditional myth of La Llorona, or The Weeping Woman, that has many forms in Latin American culture, one of which is a woman who captures the eye of a rich man who then loses interest in her, resulting in her murdering her children and becoming damned to search for them eternally in Hell.
All I can say is wow to this one. It’s incredibly well done. Each scene takes its time but never fails to be engaging. Artistically, it’s a visual feast. Thematically, it is a powerful political story of a dictator hiding the truth of his brutal crimes behind a wall of lies, rationalizations, and the physical form of a pitiable old man, while an angry population demands these crimes be recognized. It is also a powerful story of a ghost seeking not vengeance, but justice.
As a ghost story, it’s not very scary, though there is an underlying tension that builds between the cries of the mob and the gradual revelation of the horrific act that created the ghost, and when the final truth is revealed, that is when the real horror shows its face, and we find out who the real monster is.
I loved LA LLORONA for its great storytelling, strong themes, and clever combination of an old trope with dramatic political drama.