“An aging paranoid war criminal, protected by his faithful wife, faces death while being haunted by the ghosts of his past.” -IMBD
I must begin this review by saying that if you are not a fan of horror, you need not fear. I am literally the biggest wimp when it comes to scary movies and I did not even flinch when watching this. It should also be stated that another film entitled The Curse of La Llorona came out the same year and is much more in line with the horror genre. This film, on the other hand, puts an interesting twist on a classic Latin American folktale.
While the original lore usually involves the ghost of a mother who roams waterfronts mourning her drowned children, whom she drowned to keep them away from her father, this film puts a much more solemn twist on the tale. Instead, the film follows an aging Guatemalan dictator and general, Enrique, who is being tried for his war crimes against native Mayans in the 1980s. Enrique is surrounded by his wife, who refuses to believe the horrors or put any blame on her husband; his daughter, who admits more doubt but refuses to relinquish her privilege or racist views of the Mayans; his granddaughter, Sara; a security guard; and his devoted housekeeper, Valeriana, a native Mayan herself. As the world closes in around the family and most of the household staff quit, a young Mayan woman named Alma is brought in by Valeriana to work for the family.
A majority of the film is spent observing this family as the remain stuck in their lavish household, now surrounded by angry, chanting protestors who appear to be on the verge of overtaking the property at any moment. While strange occurrences do begin to take place, this hardly feels like a ghost story. Instead it feels like a reckoning. A family taring itself apart as it begins to understand what the patriarch of the family is responsible for.
That is ultimately what makes this movie so intriguing. It relies on one of most commonly used and classic components of a horror movie: the inability to differentiate whether the character is going mad or whether the things they (and we, as the audiences) are seeing are true. However, instead of relying on blood and gore, this movie focuses on the human experiences. How will this family react when forced to face the reality of Enrique’s crimes, both metaphorically and otherwise…
It was a much shorter film than I thought it was going to be, which is understandable because it has a very defined point to make and does not need to drag the story along any more than necessary. While I thought it was a unique and important story, it may not be for everyone. Again, for you horror film fans out there who are hoping for more ghost and less politics, this may not be the film for you. But hey, I’m going to celebrate what may be my one and only “horror film” review! 👻
Rating: 7 out of 10
If you like this movie, you should also watch: The Queen of Hollywood Blvd., Gunpowder Heart
Streaming: Available to buy or rent
With: Maria Mercedes Coroy, Sabrina De La Hoz, Magarita Kenefic
Directed By: Hayro Bustamante