The Legend of La Llorona review – holiday horror down Mexico way

Very low-budget shocker sees American family stalked by the spectre of a bereaved mother taking vengeance on other people’s kids

Set in some densely forested, geographically-non-specific corner of Mexico, this very low-budget horror story features Autumn Reeser as suburban SoCal mom Carly Candlewood, who arrives for a holiday with her husband Andrew (Antonio Cupo) and young son Danny (Nicolas Madrazo). Together, they’re hoping to heal as a family after Carly’s recent miscarriage. Unfortunately, no one mentioned in the TripAdvisor reviews that the canals near the small hotel where the Candlewoods are staying have been haunted for years by a spooky ghost lady called La Llorona (Zamia Fandiño).

The name relates to the fact that she’s always crying for her lost child, and her own way of dealing with bereavement is to steal other people’s kids, especially at night or at least when the camera has a red filter attached to create a murky, nocturnal look. What’s more, all the locals know about her, and a memorial wall nearby is plastered with pictures of missing children: an unpleasant echo of the legions of people abducted throughout the country in real life. La Llorona usually takes the form of an ectoplasmic, diaphanous figure with a flowing gown, generous embonpoint and a half-smashed face. But of late it seems she’s been gaining corporeality; the upside of which is that bullets seem to temporarily repel her. But her growing strength represents a near and present danger for little Danny, whom she keeps catching and then losing as Carly fights her off.

Although it’s always a treat to see veteran character actor Danny Trejo doing his stuff – playing an ambiguous figure attached to the hotel – both he and most of the rest of the cast deliver their lines with the flat, enthusiasm-free cadences of an ensemble cheesed off with the size of their paycheques and the quality of the catering. The honourable exceptions are Fandiño herself and Mauricio Galaz as her lover, seen in a key flashback, who emote like they’re auditioning for the next hit telenovela.

• The Legend of La Llorona is released on 17 January on digital platforms.


Leslie Felperin

The GuardianTramp

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