Review: “Emotional” ‘La Llorona’ Is Haunted By the Sins of the Past

Directed by Jayro Bustamante, the feature is now streaming on Shudder.

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La Llorona, directed by Jayro Bustamante, transforms the traditional folk-tale into an allegory for the political sins of Guatemala. The film opens as the patriarch of a wealthy Guatemalan family, Enrique (Julio Diaz), is standing trial for genocide. The bulk of the film focuses on the ways that three generations of women in Enrique’s family have to come to terms with the possibility that their husband/father/grandfather may be a monster. 

As the entire servant staff of the household leaves, the family is only left with one life-long maid and the new arrival of a young and mysterious woman, Alma (Maria Mercedes Coroy). Alma is nearly silent, subservient, but also seems to know more than she’s saying. Her presence, along with the never-ending drone of protestors outside the estate, acts as a catalyst to reveal the unspoken sins of the father.

La Llorona doesn’t resort to jump scares or CGI effects. Instead, it allows the horrific implications of Enrique’s past to slowly infect every member of his family. This may not really fill the horror needs of the average viewer, but for those filmgoers who enjoy allegorical ghost stories with some emotional bite, La Llorona might just fit the bill.

Editor’s Note: To check out Bruce Purkey’s review of A Bluebird In My Heart, take a listen to the latest episode of Find Your Film, a podcast he co-hosts with me and Eric Holmes:

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