La Llorona

Written by Taylor Baker

76/100

La Llorona from Filmmaker Jayro Bustamante presents the storied myth of ‘The Weeping Woman’ against a modern framework of revenge. Julio Diaz plays Enrique, a former General standing trial–immobile in his wheelchair, for the genocide of innocent Mayan populations near a mountain. After a nightmare which causes him to believe that someone is in his house, he picks up a pistol and heads downstairs, his wife comes to check on him, startles him, and he levels a blast that lodges in the doorway inches away from her head. It’s clear from the start the story of La Llorona will not be a happy one.

Bustamante leans on cinematographer Nicolás Wong to capture impeccably framed shots that are stirring to view by themselves, when paired with small nudges to the zoom and angle those same shots begin to cause a sense of awe and foreboding. Bustamante contributes as co-writer and editor, cementing a consistent feeling and vision to this modern fable retelling. Whether it’s Enrique on trial festooned in a field of darkness indicating the massive havoc he enacted, or a trip through a flooded bedroom in which Alma is sitting on the bath brushing her hair there’s a constant tension and finesse of tone indicating the loom of a coming atonement.

The center of the film is not Enrique but rather the women that surround him. His wife Carmen (Margarita Kenéfic), their daughter Natalia (Sabrina De La Hoz), and Natalia’s daughter–Enrique and Carmen’s Grand Daughter Sara (Ayla-Elea Hurtado). These three form a sense of generational grief, innocence, and disillusionment collectively. Where many storytellers before have leaned into the monstrosity of the fable for the final comeuppance, Jayro opts to have Enrique’s family suffer for his sins. Slowly at first, just a hint hear and there, building dread but never going away from reality to the supernatural. The stakes are firmly rooted in reality, where they belong– and where they must be, if you want to tell this story in an honest way. Rather than share what that finale is I’ll let you watch for yourself.

Recommended

La Llorona Trailer

La Llorona is currently streaming on Shudder