Cry is plagued by genre conventions and a haphazard script

The Cry: La Llorona

on May 01, 2008 by Sara Schieron

Less-than-middling attempt to exploit the potent Mexican myth of La Llorona (the crying woman) fails largely due to a crutch-like reliance on already weak genre conventions and haphazard script. Ridiculous dialogue and bad-TV-strata acting don’t help matters. Still, the film could find a niche with Latino audiences. The myth of Llorona is a particularly pervasive one, and there’s an unquestionable audience for stories about her. Reaching that audience is another matter.

La Malinche, Cortez’s lover and famed mother of the first mestizo, is regarded as both a harlot and a diplomat (depending upon your frame of reference). One of her last acts, historic or mythic, was the drowning of her sons. After Cortez had tired of her and made plans to leave, she was told one of her sons would come back to her land and betray her people. Knowing Cortez would likely take one if not both of their sons back with him to Spain, she chose the fate of her people over that of her children and suffered a life of torment as a result. By legend, her specter has habits that resemble other mythic ghosts. She’s said to haunt bodies of water, steal the eyes of children and possess the bodies of forgiving or feeble women who’ve been wronged by men. The film The Cry: La Llorona merges these and various other myths to build a sort of bridge, or meditation, between the myths. One, however, gets the impression this could be one of many different films about the same ghost/legend possession. One also gets the impression that less-than-diligent attention was paid to the meanings and values employed by the film, as the puzzle pieces and characters don’t consistently match up.

Young artist and mother Maria (Adriana Domínguez) has had an unwanted connection to La Llorona. She moved from Mexico to Manhattan (suffering no language difficulties) in order to escape the wicked spirit’s torment. She often goes into trances and sketches Llorona’s next child victim. While Llorona’s random kinderhaas makes her a more menacing villain, her habit of announcing her presence by whispering “La Llorona” (like some sort of evil Pokemon) doesn’t add to her evil aura. After Llorona inspires a myriad of other mothers to kill their babies, she goes about trying to compel Maria to do the same. In an unromantic side story, Detective Alex Scott (Christian Camargo), who’s previously lost his two sons and wife at the hands of Llorona, runs into Maria and the two form what seems like no bond whatsoever. This non-bond culminates in a seemingly random sequence of torment near the ponds of Central Park. Thankfully, Maria’s non-boyfriend Det. Scott is there to run away from the whispers with her and son Tonio.

The film is weighed down with problems. Character relations seem arbitrary and, as a consequence, irrelevant. The villainess only develops a shape (she becomes a blue haze) in the middle of the second act. This new shape is momentarily confusing, but among so many other incongruities, it’s hardly a deathblow. Editing is inconsistent and sometimes hard to follow: The lack of character relations doesn’t help this matter. The real tragedy here is the potential that seems lost on shoddy construction. La Llorona is a great, powerful and meaningful myth, and you’d be hard-pressed to find better inspiration for a horror film. Sadly, this isn’t the film that does the subject matter justice.

Distributor: Monterey Media
Cast: Christian Camargo, Adriana Dominguez, Carlos Leon and Miriam Colon
Director: Bernadine Santistevan
Screenwriter: Monique Salazar
Producers: Bernadine Santistevan, Lara Blum, Javier Ramirez Sandoval, Juan Dapena, Horacio Sosa, Bruce M. Goldstein, Pete Silverman, Lisa France, David Gray, Eric Bageot, Tamar Gadish and Dario Bigi
Genre: Supernatural thriller
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 80 min.
Release date: May 2 NY, Taos and Pilar, NM

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