Saturday, August 15, 2020

La Llorona - Movie Review

The Movie: La Llorona

The Director: Jayro Bustamante

The Cast: María Mercedes Coroy, Margarita Kenefic, Sabrina de la Hoz, Julio Diaz

The Story: An aging paranoid dictator, protected by a witch crafting wife, faces death and the uprising of his people in Guatemala.

The Review:
Director Jayro Bustamante takes the legendary figure and places her right in the middle of Guatemalan politics and societal issues. At the forefront of the story is a Retired Guatemalan general who is on trial for war crimes and the ongoing protests against the man and his apparent atrocities against the indigenous people. With that in mind, his is definitely a departure from what we saw in The Curse of La Llorona, a movie that came out last year as part of the Conjuring universe or really any other version of the fable we have ever seen before.

To tell the story this way is a bold and daring move and hopefully inspiring as well as indigenous Guatemalans to this day fear speaking up about their history for fear of retaliation and suppression. I never knew about this part of the country's history, or any part really, so it was interesting to learn about it while also enjoying a really well made movie. For those who might say they don't want a political movie disguised as horror, I would say the story sits very well inside the context that it's given and it's not real heavy handed in the political messaging so I wouldn't let that detract you from watching it. I would also say that the horror genre as a whole has always been heavily influenced by and has always had a heavy influence on politics and culture so if you're a fan of the genre, you should be used to this type of story telling.

This is definitely a horror movie although it's not one that attempts to jump out at you with pop up scares and it's also not a gore fest, there's more of a haunting and unnerving type of approach to the horror and it is definitely real and definitely an affecting experience. What's terrifying is learning about and understanding the brutal aspects of the history of this country and how the narrative is consistent with how colonization has commonly occurred over the course of time.

Visually, there is definitely a mood going on here. Lots of muted colors and everything is dark and dreary especially within the house where the general and his family reside. When we do see splashes of color, it represents the heritage and culture of the people as it boldly resists oppression like in the photo below. There is so much subtlety and nuance when it comes to the story telling and the representation within this movie. I'm sure there is a lot of the history and culture that went over my head because I'm not familiar with it which just means I need to watch it again and I'm sure I will.

The Verdict:
La Llorona is a dark and unnerving re-imagining of a classic fable and I loved all of it. The culture, the history, the horror, and the cinematic story telling is all a sight to behold. The representation of Guatemala and the indigenous culture is a very important thing to see and to understand.

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