As a horde of angry protestors threatens to invade the opulent home of a retired Guatemalan general, the ghosts of an unforgivable sin haunt his family and an entire nation that must come to terms with the devastating truths of its past.
There’s been a great deal of jubilation among Latinos, especially those who are fans of the Latin horror genre, about the recent nomination of Jayro Bustamante‘s supernatural/horror film ‘LA LLORONA‘ into competition during the forthcoming 78th annual Golden Globe award by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in the category of “Best Picture – Foreign Language.”
This is exciting and welcome news for several reasons: First off, this nomination represents the first time a film from Guatemala has been given the tip-of-the-hat by the prestigious awards body; it’s in the Best Picture (Foreign Language) race, which has been a good barometer as to who might go on to win an Oscar at the Academy Awards, and, well, because it’s a horror film! It’s also exciting because the film also takes on the historical issue of government-sanctioned death squads in Guatemala and seamlessly weaves this delicate and traumatic tableaux into the film’s fabric. A horror within a horror that ends up being multidimensional and engaging storytelling. Go figure.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, the folktale of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), which is culturally echoed in various Latin American countries, Mexico, and even in the United States’ Southwest, has been screaming a bit too loud and often for our taste lately (and has been tone deaf, too). More notably there’s been ‘The Curse of La Llorona‘ (2019), produced by one of my favorites, James Wan (Sorry—NO CIGAR), and ‘The Legend of La Llorona’ (2020). Both fail to hit their mark. Big time. Perhaps it’s because both these attempts were merely stories that were transplanted and transposed into another foreign framework that lacked the organic cultural mythology that Bustamante’s version had in the spades. And this even takes into account that Legend had a largely bonafide Latin cast.
It should be noted that this is the second time in as many years that a horror-themed film is on the Best Picture shelf at the Globes. In 2019 Bong Joon-ho‘s Korean thriller/comedy ‘Parasite‘ took the honor and went on to make mince meat out of its competition at the Academy Awards. Just saying. 😉
The Guatemalan-French co-production is up against some stiff competition, however: Another Round (Denmark), The Life Ahead (Italy), Minari (USA), and Two of Us (USA, France). Bustamante (Temblores (2019), Xcanul (2015)), a native of Guatemala, filmed La Llorona in Spanish and Mayan, the ancient indigenous language of Mesoamerica, and utilized regional emerging talent in the cast and crew. The film was floated as an original content production of the genre subscription streaming shingle, SHUDDER.
By now it’s not a stretch to figure out where we have our money—on the horror barrel-head! On February 28th we’ll find out if lighting does strike twice in the same place!
Peep the film’s trailer below —