“Revenge of La Llorona” (Cinema Threat Productions. 2006) Reviewed by Brian Kirst.
Ever since Pamela Voorhees beheaded her way into infamy in the final moments of the original “Friday the 13th” film, America has been waiting for its next super power jamming crazy psycho ghostly queen. (Or at least I have!) Sure, in the late 80’s there were the “Sleepaway Camp” sequels with transgendered Angela at the head. But no truly feminine force has been significant enough to rival the Freddy, Jason, Michael, Pinhead, Leatherface, Tall Man factor. And I think that’s a shame.
There have been some creepy female villains, of late, in some so-so films like “Darkness Falls,” “Stay Alive” and “Dead Silence,” but none have truly caught on. Even the chilly horror of the dampened, evil Samara didn’t leave much of a wet spot on the linoleum of terror after the second slightly disappointing American entry of “The Ring”. Unfortunately, Terrance Williams’ La Llorona is not going to fill that grand woman of horror bill. “Revenge of La Llorona,” Williams’ second film in his La Llorona series does have some effective moments and some fairly decent performances. It just ultimately ends up being one of those slightly enjoyable films that might have some people proclaiming, as does one of its main characters, “I’m not understanding any of this!”……
The premise of “Revenge of La Llorona” is fairly traditional with the host and crew of a reality series called ‘Paranormal News’ spending the night in the home that La Llorona supposedly haunts. Of course, the home also turns out to have been the scene of a gruesome, bloody massacre some years hence. Williams (who wrote, directed and produced) does introduce some interesting sub-plots like a murderous thug and a suddenly appearing crop of cash. He, also, seems to have a pretty steady hand as a director. The opening scene wherein an amorous gentleman is dismembered in a ravishingly violent way is well edited and extremely effective. Still, there are some areas in which this project falls short.
La Llorona known as the “weeping lady” supposedly is well feared for choosing children as her victims according to the legends well broadcasted within the film. Williams does
eventually include a more vague interpretation of La Llorona’s activities involving adults as her victims. Still it comes off as strange that all her kills involve (mainly) sexually active grown-ups. In fact the vague motivation of La Llorona is the film’s principal problem. Is she a vengeful scorned woman punishing all erotically inclined lovers? Is she trying to take over the body of her granddaughter whom is having visions of her? Is she attacking the participants just because they’ve invaded her domain? It seems it may be all of this, but nothing is truly written in cold hard dramatic stone. There are also no clear rules set up within the house itself. Some characters can’t leave while others are able to walk freely about the grounds surrounding the property hours after the multiple killings have begun to occur.
Williams, also, has problems with spatial issues within the house itself. At one point, a bloody (but not too bloody, unfortunately) murder and kidnapping occur seemingly a mere room away from the other house guests. This is apparently not the case because no one reacts to the situation until long after the gun shots have been fired. Obviously the savage encounter has taken place far enough away from everyone else for them not to immediately notice. This does not seem to be the case for viewers, though, making the characters appear exceedingly ignorant.
One also has to wonder a bit about the nudity factor. I am a terror cowboy and all for fun subversive flesh flashing at the horror hoedown – and there is plenty of it here. Some of Williams’ more barely clad ghostly occurrences are truly erotic and effectively done. Much of the more intimately based nudity comes off as truly exploitive, though. I know there is a preponderance of horror fans that have no desire to see male buttocks, but I have no clue as to how penetration (even fake penetration) can occur when a man is fully clothed. Almost every single sex scene – violent or otherwise – has topless or entirely naked women while the men are nearly fully dressed. Ultimately, this ruins the effectiveness of some of the depraved energy Williams is going for and more than the most unnecessary shower scene puts the women at a seeming disadvantage.
As for those oft seen naked bodies, the women ultimately come off best in the acting department. Mary Sanchez and Tina Troung have the majority of the naturally effective moments here. Sanchez even manages some creepy moments as the ghastly La Llorona and eventually creates some audience sympathy as her put upon granddaughter Hana, also. Carlos Castillo as Jacob is fine, but wrongly cast. (This is another very strange choice on Williams’ part.) Jacob is Black and Castillo, whatever his cultural make-up, does not appear to be African American in the least. Much is made of Jacob’s color in the film and Castillo’s casting leads to confusion and more audience head scratching than is necessary. (?,?,?, flick, flick, flick!) This also seems to have been a very simple thing to change script-wise, also. Elsewhere, Williams himself has some nice underplayed moments as the thug who interrupts the twisted media party. A scene wherein he threatens Sanchez is nicely effective because of Williams’ subtle handling of it. As Royce, the host of “Paranormal News,” Jim Andrews has the most thankless job. His role is pretty much a one dimensional, extremely prejudiced blowhard. Yet, Andrews does himself no favors by seemingly braying out every single line of dialogue he has. A little change of tone, here and there, would have been very effective and may have gained him a little support from the audience. As it is, you want him to die just to rid yourself of his loud lunged bellowing not because he is so evil.
While, not an amazing picture “Revenge of La Llorona” does establish Terrence Williams as a director of some skill and one with some interesting ideas. It will be intriguing to see how he develops. He is obviously having fun and one wishes that fun translated more onto the screen. Perhaps a collaborator could serve him well. As it stands, “Revenge of La Llorona” is fine for those horror fans who like to give everything a shot or for those who are interested in any deadly antagonism from a feminine perspective. Just watch out for your necks and your peters! La Llorona just might find a way to misuse them quick!