La Llorona (2019)

Some subjects are horrific enough without the added charge of being in a horror film, so I had been avoiding watching the much lauded La Llorona. It’s about the aftermath of the trial of a general who ordered the genocide of the Mayan people in the Guatemalan Civil War. Elderly former general Enrique Monteverde is found guilty, but his conviction is overturned, and he retreats with his family to their house in the city, which is surrounded by noisy protestors. The servants all leave, and the housekeeper, Valeriana, accepts the help of a young woman from her village, Alma. Trapped in the house, strange things begin to happen to the family, and the ghosts of the past insist on being heard.

Some reviews of the film voice frustration at the slow pace and lack of scares. La Llorona explores an important historical event with commendable weight through a famous Mexican ghost story. Every shot is considered. Doing some research, the small details of the La Llorona legend are dotted all through the film, none more important than Alma teacing Monteverde’s granddaughter, Sara, to hold her breath underwater. The meaning of this becomes shockingly apparent at the end.

Over the end credits, there is a heartbreaking arrangement of the Mexican folk song, La Llorona, which means the weeping woman. She has much to weep over.