Craft By Zen

Curation  /  Films  /  La Llorona

Film Poster for La Llorona
Film Poster for La Llorona
Dir. Jayro Bustamante
🌎 Guatemala
🗓️ 2019
⌚️ 96 minutes
🔊 Spanish, Ixil, Kaqchikel
First Watched:
Atrocities commited by a warmongering general come back to haunt him in modern-day Guatemala.


It’s October, and my partner and I love giving each other movies to watch to get ourselves into the Halloween spirit. That ranges from good gothic classics to childhood favorites, and movies that slipped by us over the past few years. This film falls into the cracks of that last category, where I knew about its existence, but haven’t made an effort yet to seek it out.


Looking at it’s surface, the film is set in the present day where a former high-ranking general is put on trial for the genocide of indigenous tribes, including women and children. The women in his life, specifically his wife, daughter, grand-daughter, and maid, are all haunted by La Llorona, or the weeping woman. The general grows increasingly paranoid after the trail concludes in a mis-trial and the public spend days protesting at his door.


We watched this film days prior to the Hamas attacks, so it’s been a strange parallel watching this and then watching Israelis prep for an all out war in Palestine. There’s too many paralells that you can draw from it. What I loved in this film was the use of language and culture from indigenous tribes living in Guatemala. The haunting nature of this film is retribution from the lens of an ancient tale. It’s not a movie with a million jump scares, or a “man vs. ghost/creature/zombies/vampires” story, but the psychological horror of genocide.

We talk a lot about divide in our society, of us vs. them. This movie plays on that, from the public vs. politicians, the indigenous tribes vs. the european descendants who settled later, and the patriarchy vs. matriarchy.

Film Still of La Llorona
Film Still of La Llorona

I was unfamiliar with the tale of La Llorona prior to this film. The one-sentence story is a vengeful spirit “who is said to roam near bodies of water mourning her children who she drowned in a jealous rage after discovering her husband was cheating on her.” (Wikipedia). What is interesting here is the time period of La Llorona in post-colonial times, and the legacy in which it continues under different guises. The general Enrique put on trial in this film is based off real-life authoritarian Efraín Ríos Montt.

Film Still of La Llorona
Film Still of La Llorona

This was an excellent film to include in our spooktober fest. If you’re in for a slow burn ghost story, this is the one to watch. Must Watch.