Time to hope on over to Guatemala for this next one but I’ll go ahead and level with you. The only reason I picked this is because I am obviously going to be doing the La Llorona movie from the Conjuring universe next. I just needed to have a different baseline representation before going into what I can only assume will be an absolute shit show.
The story centers on an elderly Guatemalan dictator, Enrique, that is being charged with genocide of the native Maya Ixil people. When he is found guilty, the government overrules the decision of the court and further angers the population. With the backdrop of outraged people demanding justice, Enrique and his family begin to get haunted. Not just by the titular ghost but by the things that they have tried to suppress and deny. Slowly, the family descends towards paranoia and a loss of the mask of civility they wear.
The very real political setting of the movie helps to make it more engaging, which is good since the actual “horror” aspects of this movie are few and far between. In this 90 minutes movie, there isn’t anything particularly scary until about 75 minutes in. This isn’t to say that the movie is bad but just that if you went in looking for a spooky horror movie about a ghost that you could be disappointed. This plays out much more like a political psychodrama than your standard scary movie. Weirdly, it is still shot like a standard horror movie with wide shots and heavily shadowed corners where you expect something to be waiting but nothing ever comes from these set-ups.
One of the things that annoyed me was that it seemed like a lot of the haunting punishment was aimed at the wife rather than the actual dictator himself. Sure, Enrique gets more paranoid that someone is in the house or trying to get him but that’s not an entirely unfounded fear, given the circumstances. His wife, however, is haunted by terrible nightmares and begins to physically degenerate as the film goes on. His daughter is also a weak point as she is just kind of present for the movie and doesn’t really do much or even emote. There is some plot hinted at with her missing husband but nothing gets resolved or expanded upon.
While interesting to watch and definitely well made, I don’t know that I’d exactly recommend this as a good Halloween movie. The political aspect is a good twist on the story but there just isn’t that level of tension you might want from a horror film.
Ranking: 3 out of 5